MELROSE -- Flames broke out in downtown Melrose yesterday (Thursday) and now the community is coming together to help each other out.

The blaze destroyed historic buildings, businesses and homes. Many residents were affected by the fire, Perla Montanez says she was enjoying the afternoon with her daughter when soon smoke filled her apartment.

"I looked to the door and saw everything was dark and I couldn't get out. I was with my daughter and they told me they were going to take me out through the window."

Fire Chief Jeremy Kraemer says the cause of the fire is still under investigation and they treated one person for smoke inhalation.

Within about an hour of the fire starting, the community knew many people would be displaced. The Central Minnesota Credit Union stepped up and became the donation center. Vice president of marketing, Scott Eveslage says the amount of donations piled up fast.

"We were overwhelmed yesterday within about two hours we had an entire lobby filled with donations from local area residents. We have enough clothing and supplies right now but we are actually asking people if they would like to contribute to donate to the central Minnesota Chapter of the American Red Cross."

Donations can be made at any Central Minnesota Credit Union or online with the Red Cross.

Businesses are also struggling after the fire and many of them were destroyed. Lori Drossel owns Salon Elite, she says her business only had minor damages.

"We've been the lucky ones, especially me personally, the building has some damage but the rest of the block is where they took the hit."

Jean Paschke with the Melrose Area Historical Society says losing the businesses is devastating but losing the buildings takes away a piece of the past.

"It is a terrible blow to the city, not just because of these buildings because I'm sure they are all insured but because it was a piece of history. And then coming on the heels of the church fire, well that really brought it home, the town is burning down and this has to stop."

Most of the buildings were built in 1887.

Downtown Melrose Fire, photo by's Chrissy Gaetke