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Firefighters battle large blaze

ST. PAUL (AP) — Firefighters on Tuesday battled a large fire in downtown St. Paul that engulfed a building that was under construction, causing part of the structure to collapse.

Flames were shooting high into the air and the glow could be seen for miles when firefighters arrived about 4:20 a.m., according to St. Paul Deputy Fire Chief Roy Mokosso. By 6:30 a.m., crews had most of the fire out and were concentrating on dousing hot spots, Mokosso said.

No one was inside the structure, which was “heavily involved” when crews arrived, and they were forced to fight the blaze from the outside because of the flames and heat, he said.

The building is the Seven Corners Gateway site, an apartment building and hotel complex near the Xcel Energy Center. There were no reports of injuries and there was no immediate word about the possible cause of the fire.

Several streets and interstate ramps in the vicinity were closed, the Minnesota Department of Transportation said.

Some schools reject requirement

JOHNSTON, Iowa (AP) — At least two school districts in Iowa are refusing to follow the governor’s demand that they return students to classrooms, rebuffing the idea that the state can override what local officials believe is the safest way to educate their children as coronavirus spreads in their counties.

Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday reiterated that the state will require at least half of a school’s instruction to be held in person and the state will decide when K-12 schools can send students home based on community virus spread and student illnesses.

Reynolds’ policy would allow exceptions only if counties have coronavirus positivity rates of 15% to 20% over a two-week period, and at least 10% of students absent. If granted, such waivers for remote-only learning would expire after 14 days.

Under the policy individual parents can choose online learning from home.

On Monday, school officials in Waukee said they would not seek permission from the state to keep students at home, citing three sections of Iowa law that they believe give school boards local authority to decide what’s best for them.

“We further believe decisions regarding the health and safety of our students, staff, and the general community are best made by those most closely associated with the decision-making,” said a statement posted by Superintendent Brad Buck and the board on the district’s website.

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