The Burnsville fire

The news doesn’t get any more heartbreaking than last evening’s fire in Burnsville that left hundreds homeless, and wiped out Christmas presents for many kids.

This morning, we’re told the American Red Cross is providing shelter for 19 families (about 80 people) at the Burnsville High School gym. Over 20 Red Cross volunteers are on site, providing medical assistance, stress counseling and other services. Donations to the Twin Cities Chapter of the American Red Cross at or by calling 612-460-3700.

The Red Cross hopes to get people into temporary housing by Christmas Eve. Donations of blankets, pillows and food were trickling into the high school Monday evening, WCCO said.

This morning’s Star Tribune carried the “silver lining” component of the story with this photo and caption:

At Burnsville High School, Jess Axt reported his lost cat, Salt, to volunteers, consisting of the Burnsville Blaze girls’ basketball team. After finishing a game, they signed in displaced people from the apartments to temporary shelter at the high school gym. Taking the description of the cat was Lexy Legrand.

Oh, it gets better. The Pioneer Press reports other students started assembling Christmas gifts for the now-homeless kids:

Around the corner from the Burnsville High School gymnasium, where victims were staying, dozens of students sat on the floor wrapping presents for children who had lost their homes.

Other students arrived, bringing bags full of gifts from any store they could find open.

“It’s really hit the community hard. I was in the car just crying,” said Natalie Evanson, 17, a junior and student council member.

“I can’t remember anything this bad happening,” she said as teddy bears, footballs, coloring books and other gifts were wrapped and labeled for the recipients’ appropriate gender and age.

Grocery stores and restaurants donated food to the victims. A convenience store provided coffee. The manager at a SuperAmerica gave his coat away.

“He needed it more than me,” Joe Rush said. “You lose everything around the holidays — what are you going to do?”

Update 1:50 p.m. The company that ran the complex has set up a fund to help the victims:

Make Checks Payable to:

U.S. Bank/Burncliff Apartments

The Goodman Group

1107 Hazeltine Blvd #200

Chaska, MN 55318

  • Elizabeth T

    I was 14 when our house burned to the ground on Dec. 20. We took shelter with friends in the neighboring county. We’d lost everything. Never in my life will I forget the people of that area (not even a town really) who gave us clothing and some toys for my little brothers. Even if I don’t know who they were, I think of them every year – besides, remembering the amazing generosity given to total strangers is much more pleasant than remembering what we lost.

  • Melissa

    This story is just awesome, I’m particularly impressed with the Burnsville HS students who came through in a crisis. Just when you think “kids today” are spoiled and self-centered Wii-playing jerks, these kids stepped up and proved they are outstanding citizens. Well done Burnsville HS!