Minn. School Building Collapses After Possible Gas Explosion

Firefighters at the scene of an apparent explosion

Firefighters at the scene of an apparent explosion at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis Wednesday Aug. 2 2017. Courtesy of KARE 11

The bodies were found in the rubble of a building that partially collapsed during the blast at the Minnehaha Academy, Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel said during a news conference. Minnehaha, a private Christian school that opened in 1913, enrolls about 825 students.

The Minneapolis Fire Department at first said one individual was slaughtered. One witness said two men yelled "gas" shortly before the blast. It destroyed the main stairwell and a group of classrooms for Years 9-12. "... Summer Program students and staff are accounted for and safe".

"I would imagine it would have been a lot more significant if it was (during) school time", Tyner said. She said it is now unknown if they're OK.

According to the Star Tribune, a janitor at the school remains unaccounted for. "Our hopes are that they are not in there". Three people were rescued off the roof.

Jim Miner, the chief of emergency medicine at Hennepin County Medical Center, confirmed to KSTP-TV that seven people were taken to the hospital initially and two more had recently arrived. "It was a awful tragedy".

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Principal of the Upper School at Minnehaha Academy Jason Wenschlag tweeted: "Please pray for Minnehaha". One of them is in critical condition.

Minneapolis police say contractors doing work on the building ruptured a gas line, causing the explosion.

The natural gas explosion ravaged the upper campus of Minnehaha Academy, piercing a giant hole in the structure, sparking a blaze and leaving mounds of debris where a stairwell, utility area and classrooms previously stood.

The initial call came in about 10:10 a.m.as a building explosion with people possibly trapped.

"We will conduct an investigation to determine the cause", she added.

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According to city records, Minneapolis issued a permit for Master Mechanical, Inc., to work on the building, CBS Minneapolis reports. Two floors of the school collapsed into a sub-basement that quickly filled with water from firefighters.

Minnesota OSHA spokeswoman Jenny O'Brien said neither were "huge penalties".

"From what I have been able to gather and from what people have been telling me.it was just seconds between 'Gas leak". The explosion affected only the upper school; the lower and middle school campus is about a mile and a half away.

"The school is at the heart of a neighborhood and at the heart of a community", Hodges said. "Gas is unsafe", the chief said.

Day said that as they left a conference room, his daughter was blown back through the door by the force of the blast and his wife was scraped. She was unharmed, he said. She and other staff grabbed onto each others' shirttails to make their way down a dark stairway and get out. She said those students are OK because the gym was not close to the site of the apparent explosion.

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"When we got outside and saw everything, we were all so relieved and happy that we made it out", Rhoades said.

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