Cause of St. Paul home explosion remains under investigation

November 26, 2018

The cause of a house explosion last week in St. Paul has not been identified and remains under investigation, fire officials said Monday.

“I would expect this one to take a little longer,” St. Paul Assistant Fire Chief Mike Gaede said of the investigation. “Nothing’s been ruled out.”

Gaede said there were no updates Monday about the possible cause.

The fire department is expecting to hold a 4 p.m. news conference today about the explosion that occurred Friday about 8:30 a.m. in the vicinity of the 600 block of Payne Avenue. Fire crews who rescued the homeowner, 80-year-old John Lundahl, are expected to speak about the case.

Lundahl remained in critical condition Monday at Regions Hospital.

Deputy St. Paul Fire Chief Dave Berger said Friday that a gas leak could be responsible, but Gaede declined to speculate Monday on the possible cause.

“That’s the initial assumption,” Berger said Friday. “With something of this magnitude, the first thing we think of looking at is a gas explosion. There are few other things that it could be.”

Xcel Energy provides gas and electric service to the block where the explosion occurred. An Xcel spokesman declined to comment Monday, deferring to the fire department.

At least eight people were displaced in the immediate aftermath, and gas and electricity was turned off to the entire block. Two neighboring houses and three storefronts were also condemned by the city and more buildings were being evaluated.

Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708

Twitter: @ChaoStrib

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