1 dead, 1 missing after school building collapse in Minneapolis

ABC News

A woman is dead, a man is missing and seven are in the hospital after an explosion caused a school building to collapse in Minneapolis today, the Minneapolis Police Department said.

The explosion set the building at Minnehaha Academy on fire and the flames were further fed by a ruptured gas line, according to police. The fire has since been put out, police said. 

The Minneapolis Fire Department confirmed the explosion was caused by a gas leak and said contractors were doing construction on the gas lines at the time of the explosion.

PHOTO: Emergency personnel put water on the scene of school building explosion and collapse at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Aug. 2, 2017.Adam Bettcher/Reuters
Emergency personnel put water on the scene of school building explosion and collapse at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Aug. 2, 2017.more +
PHOTO: Emergency personnel move away as a gas fire continues to burn following an explosion at Minnehaha Academy, Aug. 2, 2017, in Minneapolis.David Joles/Star Tribune/AP
Emergency personnel move away as a gas fire continues to burn following an explosion at Minnehaha Academy, Aug. 2, 2017, in Minneapolis.more +

Fire Chief John Fruetel said this afternoon that the fatality and the unaccounted person are staff members. “I’m not ready to determine that this is a recovery yet,” he said. “Still considering this a possible rescue.”

The chief added that the building sustained “heavy, heavy damaged” and said the front walls were blown out and the roof collapsed.

In a Facebook post, Minnehaha Academy identified the victim as Ruth Berg, a receptionist who worked for the school for 17 years.

“[S]he welcomed everyone with a smile and was always willing to go the extra mile to help our students, families, and staff,” the school said. “She will be greatly missed.”

Meanwhile, the missing man was identified by the school as John Carlson.

The hospital said this afternoon it is treating four patients: one person in critical condition and three in satisfactory conditions. Five others have already been discharged.

Injuries include broken bones, lacerations and head wounds, officials added.

PHOTO: Emergency workers respond to an explosion at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis, Aug. 2, 2017. Aaron Lavinsky/AP
Emergency workers respond to an explosion at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis, Aug. 2, 2017.
PHOTO: The Minnehaha Academy collapses in Minneapolis, Aug. 2, 2017.KSTP
The Minnehaha Academy collapses in Minneapolis, Aug. 2, 2017.

Authorities added that it was fortunate that this incident did not occur during the school year, while students were in class.

One father told ABC affiliate KSTP he was in the school counselor’s office ahead of the incident with his daughter and wife. He said someone came into the office and told them there was a gas smell and everyone needed to get out.

His daughter got up to start exiting through the hallway, and “just seconds after that” was “a huge explosion,” he told KSTP.

“It was a large, huge, ‘boom,'” he told KSTP. “One of those movie scenes where you kind of start shaking and it knocks you off your feet. It was pretty intense.”

“Stuff started falling out of the ceiling. Kind of rocked my daughter and she fell back into the building,” he told KSTP. “From there, people were in panic. We heard a lot of screaming,” and the glass blew out in the office, he said.

They exited the building out a back door, and that’s when he saw how severe this was, he told KSTP. He called this a close-knit community and said he ran back in to try to find anyone hurt. Some parts of the building were completely blocked by debris, he said.

PHOTO: Emergency personnel work at the scene of school building collapse at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Aug. 2, 2017.Adam Bettcher/Reuters
Emergency personnel work at the scene of school building collapse at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Aug. 2, 2017.more +
PHOTO: The Minnehaha Academy collapses in Minneapolis, Aug. 2, 2017.KSTP
The Minnehaha Academy collapses in Minneapolis, Aug. 2, 2017.

He said his wife and daughter were scratched up a little bit, but were otherwise OK.

“We’re blessed,” he said. “This could’ve been a lot worse.”

Officials said two floors collapsed over a subbasement currently filled with water they used to extinguish the fire.

Crews need to get into the rubble to locate missing person, officials said this afternoon, adding that this is still considered a rescue mission.

One girl told reporters she was at school for cross country practice this morning; 30 seconds after she left the building, she was in the parking lot when the explosion occurred, she said.

A “huge cloud of dust came” and the windows shattered,” she told reporters. “It shook all my insides.”

A neighbor told KSTP the explosion was “the loudest thing [I] ever heard in my entire life.”

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said in a statement, “The State will provide any and all resources necessary to aid first responders.”

2 thoughts on “1 dead, 1 missing after school building collapse in Minneapolis

  1. This story seems a little suspect to me. But then, I suspect everything.
    They had a gas leak explosion and the maintenance worker makes it out okay but the receptionist buys the big one.
    How does that work?
    Was he outside on his union break having a smoke and got hit in the head with a piece of glass shrapnel?
    Was it job switcheroo day at the Academy and that’s why the gas leak started in the first place because the receptionist was doing the maintenance guys job?

    **“[S]he welcomed everyone with a smile and was always willing to go the extra mile to help our students, families, and staff,” the school said. “She will be greatly missed.”**

    She isn’t even confirmed dead yet and some wing nut on the schools facebook page already has her pegged as toes-up in a coffin.
    Or maybe it’s just wishful thinking.

  2. Now that I’ve thought about this some more…..
    I’m pretty sure you have to be state certified to work on gas lines which means your average maintenance man probably isn’t.
    Which means the State probably hired some illegals to work on it and were paying them one chicken each week. (I know, that’s a lot of chicken.)

    Pepe: Hey, Ramone.
    Ramone: Si?
    Pepe: What’s n-o-s-m-o-k-i-n-g mean?
    Ramone: No comprende.
    Pepe: oh, well.
    “CLICK”

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