Fundraiser held to benefit victims of Uptown condo fire - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Fundraiser held to benefit victims of Uptown condo fire

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It's been nearly two weeks since flames tore through a condo building in the heart of Uptown Minneapolis, leaving nearly two dozen people homeless over New Year's weekend -- but their neighborhood hasn't forgotten them.

Though the residents have since scattered to new apartments and homes, an outpouring of support has risen from the ashes.

Even after 11 days, Molly Eisenschenk says she is still numb after losing her first home.

"I don't know when it will hit me -- seems very surreal at this point," she said. "It still doesn't feel like my life."

Eisenschenk was at work on that Friday morning when her roommate called to tell her their building was on fire.

"It was really eerie driving over -- could see smoke from over 20 blocks away," Eisenschenk recalled. "That's when I realized it was my house."

The small-town Minnesota girl realized she had no renters insurance in the big city, and nothing was left after firefighters finally extinguished the fire. Sadly, her story is one of many being told by the residents of the 100-year-old building along West Lake Street.

The fire was deemed accidental, started by unattended candles inside a first-floor unit.

With 20 people scrambling to find new homes in the middle of winter, the surrounding community stepped up to help by donating clothes, footwear, and household items at the Bruegger's Bagel Shop next door.

"Those of us that live in the vicinity of the building really feel like -- when we walk or drive by -- gut-wrenching feelings," said Jenna Victoria, who owns Amore Victoria with her husband.

On Wednesday night, Victoria plans to open the doors to the restaurant with the sole purpose of raising money for the displaced residents. All profits from food and drink sales -- and a large silent auction -- will go to the fire victims. That support is invaluable to victims like Eisenschenk.

"I think the reason I haven't broken down or lost it or felt devastated completely is because of the love and supports and generosity of family, friends and even complete strangers down here," she said.

The fundraiser will begin at 6 p.m. and will run until midnight. The silent auction ends at 10 p.m.

Those wishing to donate can also send a check to the Uptown Condo Fire Fund. Checks are accepted at Amore Victoria and all Wells Fargo branches. Cash donations are also accepted.

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