St. Paul, MN – Fire on 10th-floor of residential high-rise contained by fire sprinklers

Hundreds of people were forced from a St. Paul high-rise by a fire on Monday night, but sprinklers helped contain the damage.

The fire started just after 8 p.m. in the 16-story Wilder Park senior high-rise a few blocks from the junction of Interstate 35E and Ayd Mill Road.

Resident Diane Welch said she could hear the fire burning right above her 10th-floor unit as alarms sounded.

“And I knew things were crumbling, because I could hear it in the walls, like if you put sand through a sifter,” she said. 

Deputy Fire Chief Roy Mokosso said that more than 60 firefighters responded to fight the fire and evacuate residents. Paramedics stood by and St. Paul police helped search the building and get residents into waiting buses.

Some residents who could not use the stairs were left in place, due to what the building’s governing board told residents was serious damage to the elevators.

Mokosso said at least some areas in the building had sprinklers and the system had activated. Fire investigators were at the scene on Monday night, trying to determine the cause of the fire.

A high-rise fire at a Minneapolis Public Housing building without sprinklers killed five people in November.