Minnehaha Academy explosion: What we know

MINNEAPOLIS - Two staff members are dead after an explosion and building collapse at a private Christian school in Minneapolis Wednesday morning. One was a longtime receptionist and the other was a custodian at Minnehaha Academy.

Here's what we know:

10:23 a.m.: Minneapolis Police officers were called to 3100 West River Parkway in Minneapolis on an explosion at Minnehaha Academy. 

-- While en route, police officers were notified there was also a building collapse with people trapped. 

-- Upon arrival, officers found a large hole between the two buildings, and an active fire from a gas leak, which was shooting flames from the northside of the building. 

-- Officers rescued one person from the rubble and were notified of a second person under a collapsed wall. They were able to break apart some of the debris to rescue the first man but because of the intense heat from the flames, they could not reach the second victim. 

-- Two civilians arrived on scene before authorities -- including an off-duty Ramsey County deputy who lived across the street. 

10:48 a.m.: Minneapolis Fire tweets out they have confirmed a fatality in the explosion. 

11:04 a.m.: Minneapolis Fire retracts their statement, saying "Fatality not confirmed."

11:30 a.m.: Minneapolis Assistant Fire Chief Bryan Tyner said in a media briefing that the explosion was likely caused by a ruptured gas line. He said there were contractors in that area working on the building. 

Tyner said three people were rescued from the roof. Three others were unaccounted for and being actively searched for in the rubble and elsewhere. 

-- Police say five people were transported to the hospital and one was evaluated and released at the scene. 

11:57 a.m.: Police now say crews are actively searching for two people -- the third was found uninjured. 

Noon: Minneapolis Fire officials say they are still working to identify who the missing people are and whether or not they were in the building at the time of the explosion. They say of the people transported to Hennepin County Medical Center, one person was in critical condition.

12:35 p.m.: Minnehaha Academy posts on its Facebook page that all Summer Program students and staff are accounted for and safe. 

-- Philip Day says he and his daughter were inside the building during the explosion. He states his daughter was getting up to evacuate when the explosion knocked her back into the office. 

1:07 p.m.: Dr. James Miner, chief of emergency medicine for HCMC, says nine people total were brought to the hospital with injuries. Of those people, three were in critical condition, four were in serious condition and two were released.

-- He said two people unaccounted for are believed to be under the rubble. 

1:56 p.m.: Master Mechanical, Inc. -- the company who was issued a work permit to perform "gas piping" at Minnehaha Academy -- sends out a statement, offering their thoughts and prayers to everyone involved. 

2:45 p.m.: Minneapolis officials, including acting police chief Medaria Arradondo, Mayor Betsy Hodges and Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel, update the media. 

-- Fruetel confirms there is one fatality. 

-- He said the active search for the second missing person is a rescue at this point, not a recovery. However, dangling debris is adding a challenge to the search efforts. 

-- Fruetel said the center of the building is likely where the gas leak originated and the subsequent collapse occurred. 

3:28 p.m.: Officials clarify that both the victim found dead and the person still missing are both school staff members. 

4:06 p.m.: HCMC states they are treating four patients, one of which is critical and three others in satisfactory condition. Five patients have been discharged. 

5:02 p.m.: Minnehaha Academy confirms the woman who was killed in the explosion/collapse is Ruth Berg, a longtime receptionist at the school. Friends tell KARE 11 she was engaged and getting married in the coming months. 

5:06 p.m.: John Carlson, an 82-year-old custodian, is confirmed by the school to be the other person missing in the rubble. Family members tell KARE 11 they've been trying to get a hold of him to no avail. 

5:19 p.m.: HCMC confirms the victim in critical condition is Bryan Duffey. He is listed on the school's website as the assistant soccer coach.

8 p.m.: Authorities pull a second victim from the rubble, bringing the death toll to two.

9:19 p.m.: HCMC says in a tweet that no conditions have changed; still one in critical and three in satisfactory.

9:45 p.m.: Fire Chief John Fruetel announces that a second victim has been pulled from the rubble, confirms that it is the missing man, whom the school had identified as 82-year-old custodian John Carlson.

-- The school says Carlson was Minnehaha's "biggest cheerleader."

Thursday

6 a.m.: HCMC says in a tweet that only three patients remain in the hospital; one in critical and two in satisfactory condition.

8:30 a.m.: The National Transportation Safety Board says it's sending investigators to the scene to look into an official cause of the gas leak. The NTSB has jurisdiction over the gas pipeline.

-- Two gofundme pages are created -- one to help the families of the victims and another to help rebuild Minnehaha Academy.

3:48 p.m.: HCMC says they have one patient in critical but stable condition, one in satisfactory condition. 

4 p.m.: NTSB officials hold a press conference to give an update on their investigation. They say so far they've been examining the property but it could be about a year until they know the full scope of the investigation.

-- Chairman Christopher Hart states the explosion occurred when a gas meter was moved by a contractor. They say they will be speaking with the contractors who were working on the gas meter on Friday.

6 p.m.: Minnehaha Academy President Donna Harris says crisis counselors will be at Lower and Middle School Friday from 1 to 2 p.m. to provide counseling for those who directly experienced the explosion. Crisis counselors will also be available Monday morning and for the remainder of the week as needed.

6 p.m.: Minnehaha Academy President Donna Harris reports the Upper School will likely start classes Tuesday, Sept. 5, as "we need more time to effectively plan the school year." Lower and Middle School orientation days and the start day will not change. There will be no change to the Upper School athletic schedule, so fall sports will begin Monday, Aug. 14.

-- The school announces a memorial service for John Carlson, the beloved custodian who died in the explosion. It will be held at 6 p.m. Sunday in the school's lower and middle school chapel. His family will greet visitors from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

FRIDAY

11:23 a.m.: The Hennepin County Medical Examiner releases the official cause of death for both Ruth Berg and John Carlson. Both died of "multiple blunt force injuries sustained in a building collapse." 

5:45 p.m.: Federal investigators say a father-son team was moving a gas meter at the time of a fatal explosion that leveled part of a Minneapolis school. National Transportation Safety Board member Christopher Hart says investigators want to know as much as they can about the contractor, Master Mechanical, and the oversight conducted during the "hazardous operation."

© 2017 KARE-TV


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