3 missing, 5 injured after gas explosion at Minneapolis school

Published on Wednesday, 2 August 2017 12:53 - Written by By Paul Walsh, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) (TNS)

(AP) MINNEAPOLIS - A natural gas explosion late Wednesday morning at Minnehaha Academy’s upper school in Minneapolis caused a partial building collapse and left three people unaccounted for and injured others, fire and school officials said.

The building has collapsed to some degree, and fire crews are on the scene extinguishing the blaze and looking to remove any people who might be trapped, officials added.

As of 11 a.m., paramedic crews were treating people at the scene for injuries.

Initially, the Fire Department reported on Twitter that one person was killed but then said that was “not confirmed” about 15 minutes later.

“We are backing off that at this time,” Assistant Fire Chief Bryan Tyner said from the scene.

Fire personnel rescued three people off the roof and are looking for “three people who are unaccounted for,” Tyner added.

A statement from school administrators said the explosion involved a natural gas leak affecting only the upper school.

The academy’s lower school is many blocks downriver and unaffected.

According to city of Minneapolis records, Master Mechanical Inc. was issued a permit on June 7 for “gas piping and hooking up meter” at the address.

Among those on the campus were girls for summer cross-country practice, as well as school basketball and soccer players.

One cross-country team member said the runners had just left the school when the explosion occurred.

Gov. Mark Dayton said in a statement that his office “is in continuous contact with the city of Minneapolis and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, as emergency personnel respond to this emergency.”

Dayton pledged that the state “will provide any and all resources necessary to aid first responders in their efforts to ensure the safety of all those impacted by this morning’s explosion.”