Explosion destroys house in St. Paul

St. Paul house explosion
Firefighters search the wreckage of a home minutes after it exploded at the intersection of Payne Avenue and Edgerton Street in St. Paul on Friday morning, Nov. 23, 2018.
Andrew Krueger | MPR News

Updated: 6:30 p.m. | Posted: 10:30 a.m.

At least two people were injured Friday morning when a house exploded in St. Paul, sending a fireball into the sky and shaking buildings for miles around.

The St. Paul Fire Department reported that the explosion happened at about 8:30 a.m. at a home in the 600 block of Payne Avenue — at the the corner of Payne and Edgerton, adjacent to Swede Hollow Park.

"Crews arrived to find an explosion with a lot of debris in trees... surrounding homes had been damaged, and a lot of debris across the street," Assistant Fire Chief Matt Simpson said at the scene.

Simpson said one person was pulled from the wreckage and transported to a local hospital. The Star Tribune reported that the man — identified as 80-year-old John Lundahl — was listed in critical condition at Regions Hospital as of Friday night.

St. Paul house explosion
Debris litters the intersection of Payne Avenue and Edgerton Street and the surrounding area after a home exploded on Friday morning, Nov. 23, 2018, in St. Paul.
Andrew Krueger | MPR News

Afrah Ibrahim lives with his wife and children across the street from the home that exploded. They were home at the time of the explosion.

"Suddenly we heard a big explosion, 'Boom!' — and we thought it was inside our house, so we just ran, and all the windows shattered," he told MPR News. One of his children received minor injuries from flying glass.

"This was really, really scary. And we're thankful to God — thanks to God, we are all safe. That's what matters," Ibrahim said. "My kids are trying to not go back to the house right now; they're scared and one of them is saying, 'Let me stay in the car.' "

An explosion destroyed a building on Payne Avenue in St. Paul Friday
An explosion destroyed a building on Payne Avenue in St. Paul Friday.
Brian Bakst | MPR News

Simpson said a cat and a dog were pulled alive from the wreckage of the home.

The blast sent a fireball into the sky that was visible from at least a mile away; reports from social media indicated that the explosion was felt across much of St. Paul's east side and in neighboring communities.

St. Paul house explosion
Firefighters work at the scene of a home explosion at the intersection of Payne Avenue and Edgerton Street on Friday morning, Nov. 23, 2018, in St. Paul.
Andrew Krueger | MPR News

The cause of the blast remains under investigation; Xcel Energy crews were at the scene to secure electric and gas lines. Simpson said several neighboring buildings were damaged to the point where the residents could not immediately return home.

Xcel Energy issued a statement Friday saying the utility is "working with fire officials and emergency responders on the scene, and our emergency responders have completed safety checks of the area to confirm it is safe. We will coordinate with fire officials on the investigation into the cause of the incident. Protecting the safety of the public and of our employees is a core value and we take it very seriously."

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