Two dead in school blast

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Amy Forliti and Jeff Baenen

MIN­NE­AP­O­LIS» A sec­ond body was found in the rub­ble of a col­lapsed school build­ing in Min­ne­ap­o­lis af­ter an ex­plo­sion that also killed a school em­ployee and in­jured sev­eral oth­ers, fire of­fi­cials said Wed­nes­day night.

City Fire Chief John Frue­tel said the body was re­cov­ered around 8 p.m. Wed­nes­day at Min­nehaha Academy. Frue­tel said the med­i­cal ex­am­iner’s of­fice is work­ing to no­tify rel­a­tives.

The blast oc­curred in a util­ity as stu­dents were play­ing soc­cer and basketball at the pri­vate Chris­tian school, which serves stu­dents from pre-kinder­garten through 12th grade, ac­cord­ing to fire and school of­fi­cials.

Con­trac­tors were work­ing on one of the cam­pus’ build­ings at the time of the blast, which in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve was caused by a nat­u­ral gas ex­plo­sion, said As­sis­tant Min­ne­ap­o­lis Fire Chief Bryan Tyner.

The ex­plo­sion killed Ruth Berg, a re­cep­tion­ist for 17 years at the school who “wel­comed ev­ery­one with a smile,” the school said in a state­ment.

John Carl­son, a part-time jan­i­tor known for giv­ing Dilly Bars to stu­dents, had been re­ported miss­ing be­fore his body was found. The 81-year-old at­tended the school as a child, sent his own chil­dren there and was like a grand­fa­ther fig­ure to stu­dents, school of­fi­cials said.

Four peo­ple re­mained hos­pi­tal­ized late Wed­nes­day, in­clud­ing one in crit­i­cal con­di­tion, at Hen­nepin County Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Min­ne­ap­o­lis, ac­cord­ing to the hos­pi­tal. Their names haven’t been re­leased.

Dr. Jim Miner, the hos­pi­tal’s chief of emer­gency medicine, said vic­tims treated from the blast suf­fered in­juries rang­ing from head in­juries and bro­ken bones to cuts from de­bris.

The Star Tribune re­ported that city records show Master Me­chan­i­cal Inc. was is­sued a per­mit on 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 ques­tions to the Min­ne­ap­o­lis Fire Depart­ment.

Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune

Emer­gency work­ers re­spond to an ex­plo­sion at Min­nehaha Academy in Min­ne­ap­o­lis on Wed­nes­day. Of­fi­cials said the ex­plo­sion, which left two peo­ple dead, may have been caused by a rup­tured gas line.

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