1 Remains Critical At HCMC After Minnehaha Academy Explosion

Investigators will return to the scene of a school explosion in south Minneapolis Thursday to figure out what caused the natural gas explosion blamed for killing two staff members at Minnehaha Academy.

Police say contractors were working on the school’s boiler system yesterday. Those who escaped said that a worker inside yelled “Run!” and about 15 seconds later the building exploded.

Receptionist Ruth Berg died when the part of the building she was in collapsed.

At 8 p.m. Wednesday, searchers found a missing man’s body in the rubble. Minnehaha Academy has confirmed it was custodian John Carlson.

Doctors treated nine other people, including administrative staff and another janitor. Four patients remained in the hospital as of last night. HCMC said one remained in critical condition Thursday morning.

Investigators confirm a contractor was doing gas work near the school’s boiler room when that explosion rocked the school. It was so powerful that it blew out the walls, causing the floors to collapse, causing damage to every part of the structure.

At a news conference late Wednesday, Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel said this situation could have been worse if school had been in session.

Fruetel said immediately after the explosion yesterday, their top priority was locating the victims. Now that they have completed the search and recovery, they are trying to avoid moving debris, because they don’t want to disturb anything more that could help with the investigation.

Master Mechanical of Eagan was contracted to do work on the school during the summer months. They released a statement saying their “thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved in the incident” and that they would be referring all questions about the event to the Minneapolis Fire Department.

The school year at Minnehaha Academy begins Aug. 23. At this point, the school has not yet said anything about what they plan to do about possibly moving classes to another location.

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