Safety board in­ves­ti­gates school blast

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL -

MIN­NEAPO­LIS — In­ves­ti­ga­tors from the Na­tional Trans­porta­tion Safety Board ar­rived at a Min­neapo­lis school on Thurs­day to be­gin de­ter­min­ing what caused an ap­par­ent nat­u­ral-gas ex­plo­sion that killed two peo­ple and in­jured at least nine oth­ers, in­clud­ing one crit­i­cally.

The ex­plo­sion at Min­nehaha Academy caused part of a school build­ing to col­lapse Wed­nes­day. The bod­ies of long­time school re­cep­tion­ist Ruth Berg and cus­to­dian John Carl­son were found in the rub­ble.

City fire of­fi­cials said the col­lapse was caused by a gas ex­plo­sion in a util­ity area. Con­trac­tors were work­ing in the school at the time, and some wit­nesses said they were warned of a gas leak mo­ments be­fore the blast. Some first re­spon­ders also re­ported smelling nat­u­ral gas as they pulled peo­ple to safety.

Safety board spokesman Eric Weiss said the fed­eral agency is in­ves­ti­gat­ing be­cause it has ju­ris­dic­tion over gas pipe­lines. Ex­perts said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion will take time and in­clude in­ter­view­ing wit­nesses, in­clud­ing em­ploy­ees from Mas­ter Me­chan­i­cal Inc.

Three peo­ple re­mained hos­pi­tal­ized Thurs­day. Six other pa­tients taken to the hos­pi­tal af­ter Wed­nes­day’s blast have been re­leased.

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