Railroad Island home explodes

courtesy of Twin Cities Fire Wire A home in the 600 block of Payne Avenue in the Railroad Island neighborhood exploded Nov. 23, seriously injuring an occupant and damaging nearby homes and businesses. East metro social media users said they could feel and hear the explosion as far away as Woodbury, White Bear Lake and Roseville.

Fundraisers established to help those affected


East Side neighbors were shocked on the sleepy, post-holiday morning of Nov. 23, when a house in the 600 block of Payne Avenue exploded.

St. Paul Interim Fire Chief Butch Inks said in a Facebook post that same day that firefighters responded shortly after 8:30 a.m. to a gas explosion, which completely destroyed the home at 672 Payne Ave., and damaged nearby homes and businesses. 

Firefighters shut off the gas for the entire block and Xcel Energy was called in as well. Investigators are still working to determine the exact cause of the blast. 

A man who lived at the home, identified as 80-year-old John Lundahl, was rescued from the debris and brought to Regions Hospital in critical condition. A dog and cat, with few injuries, were also rescued from the debris.

News outlets later reported that eight adults had been displaced due to damage caused by the explosion to nearby homes and businesses, with the Red Cross helping to find temporary shelter for those in need.

On social media, east metro residents said they could hear and feel the blast as far away as Woodbury, White Bear Lake and Roseville.

In a Nov. 27 phone call, Inks said an exact cause for the explosion had not yet been determined and that it may take awhile to figure it out, as investigators make their way through the rubble. 

He said without more information the only advice he can give to prevent similar situations is to leave a structure and call 911 immediately if natural gas is smelled. An additive in the gas smells like sulphur, or rotten eggs. He said that as natural gas leaks and fills a home, all it takes is a small spark to light it all off. 

Following the news, East Side neighbors immediately began asking on social media how they could help support those affected by the explosion.

A GoFundMe page was set up to help Lundahl, who lost everything in the explosion. It can be found at www.gofundme.com/jtyrq6-help-john-get-back-on-his-feet.

The nonprofit charitable organization St. Paul Fire Foundation announced that it would be accepting contributions to help those affected by the explosion, with 100 percent of the proceeds donated to the families and businesses involved. Donations can be made at www.stpaulfirefoundation.org/make-a-gift.


—Marjorie Otto

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