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.
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.' "
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.
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."
Your support matters.
You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.