minehaha academy WCCO-TV
Flames consumed part of Minehaha Academy after a natural gas explosion.

Two killed, nine injured in explosion at Minneapolis private school

A receptionist and a custodian at Minehaha Academy die when explosion destroys part of the academy's upper school building.

Two employees were killed and nine other people were injured when a natural gas explosion destroyed part of a private school in Minneapolis.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the explosion at Minnehaha Academy killed receptionist Ruth Berg, 47, and janitor John F. Carlson, 82. Nine other people were injured, one critically..

The explosion started a fire in the upper school building at 10:23 a.m., and caused a partial collapse. After the fire was extinguished, an intensive operation began to find the missing. The first body, later identified as that of Berg, was found about 2 p.m., according to Fire Chief John Fruetel. The second, that of Carlson, was found at dusk.

Assistant boys soccer coach Bryan Duffey was hospitalized in critical condition, and two people were in satisfactory condition at Hennepin County Medical Center. Six others were treated and released.

Dr. Jim Miner, the hospital’s chief of emergency services, described the injuries as fractures, cuts and head wounds. He said no one was treated for burns.

Sara Jacobson, executive director of institutional advancement at Minnehaha, says the explosion destroyed a section of classrooms for grades nine through 12. The building collapsed mostly in the center portion, where the utility area is situated and where a chimney was damaged but still standing. Window frames were popped out of walls. Classrooms also took the brunt of the blast.

Two floors collapsed over a sub-basement that soon was filled with water from the hoses used to battle the fire.

Among those who were on the upper school campus were year-round staff, girls for summer cross-country practice, and basketball and soccer players. Classes were scheduled to begin Aug. 23.

The academy's lower school is many blocks away and unaffected.

Minehaha is a private Christian school for grades prekindergarten through 12. It was founded in 1913. It had 825 students enrolled in 2015-16.

A statement from school administrators says the explosion involved a natural gas leak

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