ST. PAUL -- When an explosion leveled a St. Paul home last Friday morning, Nov. 23, Joaquin Rosales and the other firefighters of Station 4 were gathered nearby in their firehouse’s kitchen.
“All of the sudden - boom,” Rosales said. “We all heard it and felt it.”
A single-story house had exploded at about 8:30 a.m., seriously injuring its 80-year-old occupant and damaging 20 nearby structures. The homeowner, John Lundahl, remained in critical condition at Regions Hospital on Monday.
The St. Paul Department of Safety and Inspections assessed the damaged buildings and condemned six of them, said Angie Wiese, fire safety manager for DSI. Twenty people - 15 adults and five children - who were displaced are being assisted by the American Red Cross Minnesota Region.
When the explosion happened, Paul Arnsdorf was in the basement of the duplex next door to Lundahl’s and had to scramble to safety. The stairs leading to the floor above were partially covered with cement from the foundation and other debris from the blast.
Arnsdorf, who is 60 and already had a cast on his broken foot from a recent accident, heard people yelling, “Get out!”
“I knew something happened, but I just didn’t have any idea of the magnitude,” Arnsdorf said Monday. When he saw the wreckage from Lundahl’s home, Arnsdorf thought, “John’s gone.”
Ansdorf previously did work around Lundahl’s house, but he said the man was independent and he didn’t like to bother him by going over. Now, he wishes he had checked on Lundahl before the explosion.
The duplex and the house next to it were among the structures condemned by DSI, along with a nearby church, a convenience store and chiropractic office, which also contained housing units.