Body found amongst rubble in Minneapolis building explosion

By KBJR News 1

January 1, 2014 Updated Jan 3, 2014 at 11:12 AM CDT

Minneapolis, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Investigators in Minneapolis say a gas leak may be responsible for a building explosion on Wednesday.

The explosion and fire injured 14 people, leaving at least six in critical condition. On Thursday, crews pulled a body from the debris, so far the only known fatality.

The cause of the blast remains undetermined, but according to the Minneapolis Fire Chief, witnesses say they smelled gas before the explosion. Investigators believe the explosion happened on the second or third floor on the structure.

Authorities say determining the cause could take weeks.

According to officials at the Hennepin County Medical Center, of the ten victims they were treating three remain critical, six are in satisfactory condition and one person has been released. The victims suffered burns and broken bones.

Other victims were rushed to Fairview University hospital. Spokeswoman Jennifer Amundson said Thursday she could not release any information.

Minneapolis fire crews responded to the 500 block of Cedar Avenue South just after 8:15 a.m. Wednesday morning where the building, which houses a grocery store, and 10 apartments, was engulfed in flames.

The Minneapolis Fire Chief says severe conditions forced crews to evacuate the structure just before the second and third floors collapsed.

"They did the best they could making entry into the first floor, they got in as far as they could before the conditions were so poor it became very, very unsafe and we removed all the firefighters from the structure," said Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel.

"This is clearly a tragic morning for the city of Minneapolis our hearts and our prayers are with the people affected by this fire," said Minneapolis Mayor-elect Betsy Hodges.

Officials say crews were able to get the fire under control just after 11:30 a.m with firefighter's still on scene Wednesday night watching for hotspots.

Not only were the flames a challenge, extreme cold hampered efforts, with water quickly freezing the structure.

Governor Mark Dayton issued a statement saying "On behalf of all Minnesotans, I extend my deepest sympathies to the victims of today's awful fire in Minneapolis and to their families and friends. We hope for your swift and complete recoveries."

Written for the web by Jeremy Brickley
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