Explosion destroys house in St. Paul

 mprnews.org  11/23/2018 16:46:42 

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 — that's 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.

Xcel Energy crew at the scene now on Payne Ave in St. Paul after building exploded this morning pic.twitter.com/fJCMyRblJ4

— Andrew Krueger (@akpix) November 23, 2018

Simpson said one person was pulled from the wreckage and transported to a local hospital; their condition was not immediately known. Neighbors told MPR News that a man believed to be in his 70s lived in the home.

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.

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

"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.

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.

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