Minneapolis officials plan demolition after devastating Drake Hotel fire

Crews were still putting out hot spots at the Francis Drake Hotel in Minneapolis Thursday morning after a fire broke out at the overflow shelter on Christmas Day. (FOX 9)

A Minneapolis hotel, that served as an overflow shelter for people experiencing homelessness, will be torn down after fire ripped through the structure on Christmas morning.

City officials say the Francis Drake Hotel in downtown Minneapolis has been deemed unsafe and they are now working with a contractor to begin demolition on the eastern wall.

David Frank, Minneapolis' director of community planning and economic development, said teams have been monitoring the building's structural integrity since the fire broke out. He says the roof and third floor of the building have collapsed onto the second floor, creating a heavy load on that floor.

The collapse has created pressure pushing out on the building, pressing on tiebacks that help keep the walls in place. Because of that, they have brought in a contractor to tear down the eastern portion of the building and evaluate what else needs to be done.

Fire at the Francis Drake Hotel in downtown Minneapolis

A fire broke out at the Francis Drake Hotel apartment building in downtown Minneapolis Wednesday morning. (FOX 9)

Crews are working Thursday night to prepare for the demolition work that will occur over the next two days.

The fire displaced 250 people, including 100 children, after breaking out early Christmas morning. Crews were first called to the fire around 3 a.m.

Minneapolis firefighters called in four alarms for the fire, to bring in more help for the battle, but the fire spread quickly and ended up burning until Thursday morning.

"All 250 people that are no longer there are safe, there were no serious injuries," said Mayor Frey, while thanking firefighters for their work. "That, in of itself, is something we should solace in. However, those 250 lives, they're forever changed."

Residents sat for hours on buses brought to the scene as city and county officials worked to find new housing for them. Eventually, the county and Red Cross were able to track down shelter spots for the families.

Rows and rows of diapers were brought for kids. We're told as many as 100 of the displaced residents were children.

As for the fire, investigators are working to determine what caused it. We're told, like the deadly fire that broke out in a Cedar-Riverside high-rise, the hotel did not have sprinklers.

"It's heartbreaking, it's tough," concluded Mayor Frey. "But we have a whole lot of people who are galvanized around a common concept. And that common concept is making sure every single person is safe and is warm."

Tim Treiber, CEO of Drake Hotel Properties Inc., which managed the building, released the following statement:

"While we are saddened and devastated by the property damage and loss of residences occasioned by the Christmas Day fire at the Francis Drake Hotel, we are extremely grateful and thankful that the fire resulted in no deaths and only minor injuries. The alarm system functioned well and our on-site employees working at the time assisted in the complete evacuation of the hotel Christmas morning. We wish to thank the Minneapolis Fire Department for the rapid response and tireless effort.

"We were also grateful and pleased to witness the spontaneous and generous outpouring of food, clothing and other items by the neighborhood and the entire community. Thank you.

"In the coming days we will be working with the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County to assist in determining the cause of the fire, and arriving at decisions on how to move ahead. 

"The final determination will be that of the property owner, The Leamington Company.

"We appreciate the support of the community and our opportunity to provide much needed housing to families and individuals for the past 20 years."

For more information on how you can help the hotel's former residents, you can click here. A fund set up by the Minneapolis Foundation has already raised $90,000 for the survivors of the fire.