1 dead, 1 miss­ing, 7 hurt in blast that shakes Min­ne­ap­o­lis school

Austin American-Statesman - - STATESMAN AT THE LEGISLATURE - By Amy Forliti and Jeff Baenen

One school MIN­NE­AP­O­LIS — staff mem­ber has been found dead and an­other is still miss­ing fol­low­ing a nat­u­ral gas ex­plo­sion Wed­nes­day at a pri­vate school in Min­ne­ap­o­lis, au­thor­i­ties said.

The body was found in the rub­ble of a build­ing that par­tially col­lapsed dur­ing the ex­plo­sion at the Min­nehaha Academy, Min­ne­ap­o­lis Fire Chief John Frue­tel said dur­ing a news con­fer­ence. The Chris­tian col­lege-prep school serves stu­dents from pre-kinder­garten through 12th grade.

Both in­di­vid­u­als worked at the school, ac­cord­ing to the Min­ne­ap­o­lis Fire Depart­ment. No other de­tails were im­me­di­ately re­leased.

The school re­leased a state­ment ear­lier in the day say­ing all of its sum­mer pro­gram stu­dents and staff were “ac­counted for and safe.” The school didn’t im­me­di­ately re­turn a mes­sage seek­ing com­ment fol­low­ing Frue­tel’s news con­fer­ence.

Con­trac­tors were do­ing work on the build­ing at the time of the blast, which in­ves­ti­ga­tors de­ter­mined was a gas ex­plo­sion, ac­cord­ing to As­sis­tant Fire Chief Bryan Tyner.

Seven adults were hos­pi­tal­ized, in­clud­ing three with crit­i­cal in­juries, at Hen­nepin County Med­i­cal Cen­ter.

Ae­rial video footage of the school’s cam­pus showed part of a build­ing crum­bled, win­dows in other ar­eas blown out and shat­tered, and bricks and other de­bris scat­tered about. Tyner said three peo­ple were res­cued from the roof of the build­ing shortly af­ter the ex­plo­sion.

Paul Meskan, who lives across the street from the school, said he was pulling weeds when the blast oc­curred, and that he ran over to the school to help pull a man from the rub­ble. Meskan said he and a few other peo­ple found a man who was pinned.

“We just started dig­ging,” Meskan said.

Af­ter po­lice and fire­fight­ers ar­rived, “we kept dig­ging and gas, gas was go­ing. Fire was go­ing. And it’s like, ‘we’re not go­ing back un­til we get this guy out of here.’ And got him out, and they got him on a stretcher.”

The Star Tribune re­ported that city records show Master Me­chan­i­cal Inc. was is­sued a per­mit June 7 for “gas pip­ing and hook­ing up me­ter” at the school’s ad­dress. Ryan Larsen, a com­pany of­fi­cial, re­leased a state­ment say­ing the com­pany was mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion and re­ferred all ques­tions to the Min­ne­ap­o­lis Fire Depart­ment.

Larsen wouldn’t con­firm that com­pany work­ers had been on site, say­ing: “We are try­ing to fig­ure it out.”

Min­nehaha Academy has mul­ti­ple build­ings on its cam­pus. The school said the blast only af­fected the “up­per school.”

Gov. Mark Day­ton re­leased a state­ment say­ing his of­fice was in con­tact with city of­fi­cials and the state will “pro­vide any and all re­sources nec­es­sary” to help first re­spon­ders and en­sure ev­ery­one is safe.


Emer­gency work­ers re­spond Wed­nes­day to the scene of an ex­plo­sion at Min­nehaha Academy in Min­ne­ap­o­lis. In­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve nat­u­ral gas was the cause of the blast, a fire of­fi­cial said.

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