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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Fire destroys city block in Winona

WINONA - Much of a city block in downtown Winona was destroyed after a fire that started early this morning, but no injuries have been reported and flames are reportedly dissipating after crews spent five-plus hours battling the blaze. 

There were several apartments in the block and there are reports that between a dozen and 15 tenants have been displaced.  The Red Cross says some surrounding buildings were evacuated as a precaution and it's assisting displaced tenants.  Authorities say the fire started in a building housing the Islamic Center and also damaged a law firm.  An adjacent coffee shop sustained mostly smoke damage. 


The state's most recent effort to stop drunk drivers resulted in 1,556 arrests.  The campaign began August 16 and ran through Labor Day.  Sixty arrests were made in St. Paul, and 42 in Minneapolis.  In greater Minnesota, where more than three quarters of the state's driving deaths occur annually, St. Cloud and Moorhead reported the most arrests, each about two-dozen.  Each year around 30-thousand motorists are arrested for DWI in Minnesota.  Drunk driving crashes have led to 585 deaths in the state in the past five years.  


A bee is being blamed for a rollover crash that sent a Saint Cloud man to the hospital Thursday.  The Stearns County Sheriff's Office says 19-year-old Dylan Mendel was driving in St. Wendel Township when a bee inside his vehicle caused him to get distracted, leave the roadway and roll into the ditch.  He was treated at a local hospital for his injuries.


The latest drought update shows an even larger area of severe drought in central Minnesota.  More than seven percent of the state is now in that category, nearly double last week's number.  The area of severe drought now extends across the northern Twin Cities metro into western Wisconsin, and down along the Mississippi River to the southeast corner of Minnesota.  Nearly 70 percent of Minnesota is rated abnormally dry or worse.


A Rochester woman could face animal cruelty charges after witnesses say she threw her roommate's kitten off the balcony of their apartment.  The kitten was bleeding from the face and struggling to breathe, and was taken to a local animal hospital.  Rochester investigators say the woman and her roommate got into a fight, and he apparently hit her in the face several times.  She threw things at him as he left the apartment, and that's when officers believe she tossed the kitten over the balcony.  The man could also face domestic assault charges.