One person has died following a natural gas explosion at Minnehaha Academy — a private Christian school for students in preschool through 12th grade — in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Wednesday.
Fire Chief John Fruetel confirmed the fatality during an interview with reporters, saying that a body was pulled from building rubble.
Another individual remains unaccounted for, according to Fruetel. And nine injured people were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, with three in critical condition.
“It’s just a very precarious situation, it’s very very unstable, there are no signs of (the missing person’s) obvious location and we know there are probably at least two floors of debris,” he said. “We still consider it a rescue at this point; we don’t really know we’re going to do our best to locate everyone that’s unaccounted for.”
No children were hurt in the incident, although young girls were on campus for summer cross-country practice, as well as school basketball and soccer players, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Kylee Kassebaum, a sophomore cross-country runner who was inside at the time of the explosion, called the explosion “huge.”
“All the windows just kind of burst out, and there was a huge explosion that was so loud it kind of shook your insides,” she told the Star Tribune. “As soon as we saw it we got in the car, and someone drove away because we didn’t know how safe the situation was.”
Jack Mahler, another witness who was playing soccer nearby, recalls hearing someone yell, “gas,” before the explosion.
“We heard a man yell ‘gas’ and ‘get out’, and we saw one sprint down the street and one sprint into the building, kind of standing in the doorway, yelling it. About the time the man sprinting down the street got to the end down here there was a huge explosion,” Mahler told CBS Minnesota. “Smoke went up and knocked most of us back. It knocked me off my feet.”
Initial aerial views showed high flames and wreckage in the center section of the school building.
Anne Dussol, who lives a block away from the school, says the explosion sounded like a “gun shot.”
“There were flames shooting from the parking lot,” she told the Star Tribune. “We thought at first it was a car on fire until we realized the building was gone.”
The fire is now out and emergency crews are going through rubble looking for the remaining missing person, Minneapolis Police confirm.
Gov. Mark Dayton also issued a statement, saying the “state will provide any and all resources to aid first responders.”