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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Investigation continues into explosion that rocked a Minneapolis building

MINNEAPOLIS -- The investigation continues today into what caused an explosion and fire that tore through a century-old building Wednesday in the crowded Cedar-Riverside neighborhood just east of downtown Minneapolis. At least 14 people are injured, six critically, and at least three people are reportedly unaccounted for. Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel says authorities don't know if all the residents are accounted for. Some made it out on their own, some had to be rescued with ladders and witnesses said others jumped from second- and third-floor windows. Fruetel says investigators have not been able to enter the building, but hope to today (thurs) if conditions are safe. Fruetel says it could be days or weeks before a cause is determined.


New information on Monday's train derailment in Casselton North Dakota, just west of Fargo The National Transportation Safety Board says it appears the derailment happened at a switching point between two tracks. Investigators say the grain train involved was going about 28 miles-per-hour when it jumped the tracks and the oil train was traveling at an estimated 42-miles per hour when it collided with the derailed grain cars sparking fire. The NTSB says they have not found any signal or track problems. However investigators did find a broken axle, but they are still unsure where it came from. Train crews will be interviewed today by NTSB investigators. 


Two lucky people are holding Minnesota Millionaire Raffle tickets each worth one-million dollars. Lottery officials say the winning tickets were sold in Beltrami County and Stearns County. The winning numbers are 077692 and 566227. Five tickets worth 100-thousand dollars were sold in Dakota, Hennepin, Morrison and two in Wright County. A complete list of the winning raffle numbers can be found at mn-lottery-dot-com.(


Betsy Hodges will remove "elect" from her title today when she is sworn in as the 47th mayor of the city of Minneapolis. The inauguration events will start at 11 a.m. at the Thorpe Building on Central Avenue Northeast. Hodges is the second woman to lead the city, Sharon Sayles Belton was the first from January 1, 1994, to December 31, 2001. Mayor Hodges will give an inauguration address Monday morning at City Hall.


The second Minnesota wolf hunting and trapping season is over. A total of 3,433 licensed hunters and trappers harvested 237 wolves during the early and late seasons in the state. The harvest target was 220. The Minnesota wolf population was estimated at 2,211 last winter. 


Construction of residential homes is on the upswing in Minnesota. The final 2013 numbers aren't available yet, but more than 14-thousand units were approved through November. Builders Association of Minnesota Vice President Remi Stone says their members built more homes in 2013, and builders are getting a lot of traffic through not only model homes, but also their websites. Stone is cautiously optimistic that 2014 will be an even better year.


Car and truck sales in the state were up significantly in 2013 compared to 2012. Scott Lambert, vice president of the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association, estimates a ten percent increase. Lambert says when final 2013 sales totals are released in February, the number of vehicles sold in 2013 will likely reach pre-recession levels, totaling just over 200-thousand. Lambert says 2006 was the last time dealers in Minnesota sold that many cars and trucks.


 A spaghetti benefit dinner is Sunday to help raise funds for a U-M-D student found unconscious on a neighbor's porch in 17-below-zero temperatures earlier this month. The benefit for Alyssa Jo Lommel is at the Blue Line South in St. Cloud. Organizer Esther Widor says there will be a silent auction and meat raffle, plus bracelet and t-shirt sales. Widor says people will also have a chance to bid on a 15-hundred-dollar trip to Las Vegas. The benefit runs from 11 to three on Sunday.