Probable Gas Leak Leads to Explosion at Minnehaha Academy

Marie Harrington
August 4, 2017

"Get out!" a staffer cried, breaking the Wednesday morning calm on the upper school campus.

- The school says Carlson was Minnehaha's "biggest cheerleader".

Within seconds of the powerful explosion, residents poured onto sidewalks and front lawns, stunned at the burning pile of rubble that moments before was a century-old school building.

Day leapt for the door just as the center of the south Minneapolis private school building exploded, the blast knocking her to the floor.

School receptionist Ruth Berg and custodian John Carlson were killed by the blast that tore through the Upper School of the Minnehaha Academy at about 10 a.m. local time on Wednesday, officials said. Rescuers recovered their bodies from the rubble hours after the explosion. Duffey remained in critical condition Thursday and HCMC confirmed two others remained hospitalized in "satisfactory" condition.

Their blast-related injuries ranged from head trauma and broken bones to cuts and scrapes.

Tramon Van Leer, 33, was in the gym at the Minnehaha Academy playing basketball with his stepdaughter and four other girls when they heard the blast.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said his office was in constant contact with the school.

Minneapolis police say the final unaccounted for person is also a school staffer - identified as the school janitor John Carlson, The Associated Press reports.

August 2-A section of a Christian school in Minneapolis collapsed Wednesday morning when a gas leak caused a large explosion and fire. He said crews were working to put out a fire in the building.

NBC affiliate KARE 11 reported that school officials said all students have been accounted for. Minnehaha Academy said the explosion killed Ruth Berg, the school's receptionist for 17 years.

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Minnehaha Academy is a Christian college prep school, serving students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

A work permit issued by the city of Minneapolis to an Eagan-based company, Master Mechanical Inc., allowed for gas piping and a meter hook up.

Fire officials are still assessing how to inspect the impacted area. After the fire was extinguished, an intensive operation began to find the missing.

Principal of the Upper School at Minnehaha Academy Jason Wenschlag tweeted: "Please pray for Minnehaha".

Chief Tyner said that the rest of the building has been cleared by firefighters.

Three people had been missing initially, but one of them was later found uninjured. The seriously injured include two students and the school's soccer coach. "Moving one thing can cause a collapse in another spot".

"All the windows just burst out", she said.

Tyner says three people were rescued from the building's roof.

Crews were in the process of evacuating the building when the explosion happened. He didn't immediately know whether the missing were adults or children. NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss said the agency is investigating because it has jurisdiction over gas pipelines.

Swanson, who lives across the hall from Carlson in a Minneapolis senior housing building, had arrived at the scene to look for him on behalf of Carlson's wife.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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