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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Sunday May 19th 2024

House set ablaze by fireworks


Two families displaced, and entire house damaged by fire and water


On Thursday, July 5, 2018, an individual shooting off fireworks in Cedar Field Park set fire to a duplex at 2502 S. 18th Ave. This was the second of two house fires in South Minneapolis that day. Firefighters also believe fireworks are to blame for damaging a home on the 3100 block of Portland Ave. and displacing a family of seven early Thursday morning.

Two families, who have lived in the home along S. 18th Ave. for over five years now, were displaced by the fire. The residents of the upstairs apartment reported hearing two Roman candles hit the second-story porch at the front of the house at about 4:10 pm. When the mother looked outside, the front of the building was on fire, according to house owner, Gabriel Pass, who has lived along S. 18th Ave. for over 40 years. The mother rushed out of the house with her 6-month-old baby and 9-year-old daughter, and they alerted the teenagers home inside the main floor apartment. The families made it out with their two dogs, but two pet birds perished in the flames.

Homeowners Gabriel and Amy Pass arrived a few minutes later, and firefighters shortly thereafter. “When I saw the fire it was hard to believe that it was really happening,” stated Gabriel. Twenty-year neighborhood resident Amy recalls worrying about the safety of their tenants, and also about the house next door because the fire was coming out the windows towards the nearby home.

“We are so thankful for the firefighters. The report says they got there in four minutes from the time they got the call. They worked so hard,” stated Amy. “It”'s dangerous, hot, dirty work, and they were still so kind to everyone and calm. She added, “They were so thorough and it”'s because of them that we will be able to save the structure of the house. It would be so sad to lose this house entirely. We already saved it from being condemned once 19 years ago.”

The entire house was damaged by the fire and water, and will need to be renovated. Two families were displaced by the blaze. The tenants on the top level lost everything (family of four) while the tenants on the main level (two parents and their four children ranging in age from 12-22) lost most of their possessions. Neither family had renter”'s insurance. Two separate GoFundMe campaigns have been set up. Upstairs: Downstairs:


Legal fireworks. Illegal fireworks and launch locations

Police are investigating the incident, and the insurance company has filed a suit against the perpetrator who was identified by multiple witnesses.

Roman candles are illegal in Minnesota, as are all other fireworks that fly or explode, including missiles, bottle rockets and mortars and shells. Fireworks that are legal include: sparklers, cones and tubes that emit sparks, and novelty items like snakes and party poppers.

In Minneapolis, it is illegal to use any fireworks on public property including roads, alleys, schools, and parks.

To report illegal fireworks, call 911. Callers should provide the exact address and a description of the person or people setting off the fireworks.

“I couldn”'t believe that fireworks were that dangerous, but come to think of it, it”'s so obvious and now I can”'t believe I wasn”'t more worried before. Of course they”'re dangerous,” stated Gabriel.

Second renovation in 19 years

As newlyweds 19 years ago, Gabriel and Amy Pass purchased the dilapidated duplex built in the 1890s, and invested their time and energy into it. The couple refinished the floors, painted, installed new lighting, and renovated the kitchens and bathrooms. They were thrilled to discover that the original porch pillars were hidden behind square posts built later.

Skilled craftsmen created the detailed woodwork on the small, second-story porch in the front of the house, and also contributed to woodwork features within the house. Later, the couple constructed the home”'s distinctive wrap-around porch on both levels.

Their 16-year-old daughter was born in the house, and the family resided there until 10 years ago when they moved to an apartment down the block with more space as their children got older.

“We lived a lot of life in that house,” remarked Amy. The house was insured by the Pass family, but a rehab project takes lots of time and energy, and there are always additional expenses that come up. “It”'s important for us to bring the house back again as a way to keep our community vibrant and beautiful, and we want to do that,” she said. “Such a lovely old house needs to be kept and restored. But it is going to take time and resources to make it happen. And we weren”'t expecting to be doing that right now.”


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