Explosion Damages 4-Unit Apartment Building in S. Mpls.

Posted at: 09/17/2013 4:04 PM
Updated at: 09/18/2013 7:17 AM
By: Cassie Hart

Investigators are working to uncover the cause of an explosion at a Minneapolis home that was initially reported as a gas explosion.

It happened just before 4 p.m. Tuesday on the 3000 block of Grand Avenue South. The explosion tore a front wall right off its foundation.

Rob Ayott lived in that building. "I was at work and I got a call from my neighbor who asked if I was alright," he said.

When he got to the scene, smoke was still billowing from his first floor apartment, where the worst damage was concentrated. Firefighters say that although it was initially reported as a gas explosion, it's unclear whether gas was the ignition source.

"I have no information that the gas company had been out here before. The gas company is here right now, they're conducting an investigation with our fire investigators," said Deputy Chief Mike Fust with the Minneapolis Fire Department.

Fire tore through all four units of the building. All four were occupied, but at the time, not a single person was at home, so there were no injuries. A dog was killed in the fire.

Ayott lost everything. "There's nothing left. Everything is burnt, everything -- everything I've ever owned," Ayott said. "My violin, my guitar, my computer. I collect action figures -- I had thousands of dollars worth of action figures... All of my artwork that I've worked on for the past 10 years, that I've spent thousands of hours on," he said.

But more than anything, he's worried about his black cat, Sammy, still unaccounted for hours after the explosion.

As for what could have caused the explosion, Ayott said, "They came to turn the furnace on today because I had no hot water."

"That has to be the reason. What else could it be?" he said.

No adjacent buildings were damaged.

A spokeswoman with CenterPoint Energy reiterated that there were no gas leaks in the area, and said the company has not conducted any work in the area of the explosion in the past few days and weeks. She said CenterPoint will work with the Minneapolis Fire Department to determine a cause.