Contractor seriously hurt in Minneapolis triplex fire

A contractor was left seriously hurt after a fire and reported explosion at a Minneapolis triplex on Thursday.

Fire crews responded to the report of an explosion at a three-story home on Barton Avenue shortly after 1:45 p.m.

At the home, firefighters found the victim in the front yard. He was awake and breathing but badly burned, Minneapolis Fire Chief Bryan Tyner says. The victim was rushed to the hospital in critical condition.

Officials say the victim was a painting contractor.

Chief Tyner said the fire was on the third floor of the building, which was vacant but under renovation. Residents on other floors were able to get out safely, including one resident with mobility issues who was assisted by firefighters.

The firefight proved difficult, with "complications" forcing crews out of the building at one point. A second alarm was called during the battle.

"We had to use our master streams to dump water into the roof to get more water into the fire space before we were able to send firefighters back in to finish extinguishing the fire," explained Chief Tyner. "Part of the difficulty is where the house is situated and the way the streets run. It's kind of a hard area to access. It's a very large house and so it required a lot of effort to extinguish the fire."

Chief Tyner says the other floors are in "pretty good shape" following the fire, but residents may be displaced for a couple of days due to the water damage.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.