ST. CLOUD – Eleven people were evacuated from a burning special needs shelter in St. Cloud Saturday morning.
Firefighters were battling the flames at 1:30 a.m. on the 900 block of Alabama Avenue. Officials say they were able to safely evacuate all of the occupants believed to be inside.
St. Cloud Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Jason Miller said the backside of the home caught on fire and spread to the roof. He said there was a lot of smoke and firefighters could barely see.
According to officials, there were two nurses, three adult children and six special needs individuals who were evacuated. Rescuers have not released any other information on those involved.
Miller said five people got themselves out of the home and took two patients with them. He said firefighters rescued four other patients from the blaze.
“They knew that the elevator that they use to help transport the patients up and down was not in service, so they’re hand carrying the patients out,” Miller said.
Miller said people reported hearing explosions coming from the fire.
"Some of the patients have medical conditions that require oxygen bottles to be used in the home and as a result of the fire, some of those oxygen tanks did explode," Miller said.
Miller said seven people were sent to the hospital and are in stable condition.
News 6 spoke with the homeowner’s son who said his parents have been taking care of special needs children and in recent years started adopting them.
A GoFundMe fundraiser has been created in order to help the family.
Miller said the fire department has worked with the family in the past. The agency recently collected money to help install a sprinkler system inside the home.
He said this is a huge loss, but he believes the community will help the family.
"I have a feeling there's going to be a lot of community outreach to help support the family," Miller said. "They've done so much for all of these kids. I can't imagine the community wouldn't."
The State Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.
Crews were also called to another house fire a few blocks away on Georgia Avenue.
Two adults and a minor were evacuated from the home safely, according to St. Cloud fire officials. The home is a total loss.
The State Fire Marshal is also investigating the cause of the second house fire.
Stay with News 6 as we update this developing story