The blaze broke out early Friday in one of six apartments above McMahon's Pub, Assistant Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel said. Firefighters arrived shortly after 6 a.m. to find heavy flames and smoke pouring from the two-story building, where the roof eventually collapsed.
The residential portion of the building was due for an inspection, Fire Marshal Bryan Tyner said.
Authorities found eight violations during a fire code inspection March 15 on the building's commercial part. Among them, the pub's fire alarm system hadn't been tested in more than a year and there weren't enough fire extinguishers, Tyner said.
The owners were given until March 30 to fix the violations. Tyner said his office hadn't yet gone back to see if changes had been made.
One of the victims, a woman, died at a hospital early Friday and the bodies of two men and three children were later recovered from the building, city and fire officials said. Authorities said they did not expect to find more victims.
While authorities did not immediately identify the victims, the bartender's girlfriend said her mother, her brother and his three young children had been visiting the bartender, Ryan Richner, on Thursday night. Richner lived in an apartment above the bar.
Champagne Gervais, 25, said her brother's car remained in the pub's parking lot Friday.
"They were all beautiful people," she said before breaking down sobbing as she watched crews sift through the rubble.
Richner's mother said she spoke with the medical examiner's office and also believed her son was among the dead.
"It's not confirmed, but it's pretty much confirmed. We know," Denise Schmidt said during a phone interview from Long Prairie, about 100 miles north of Minneapolis.