1 found dead, investigation continues after reported South St. Paul house explosion

1 found dead, investigation continues after South St. Paul house explosion

1 found dead, investigation continues after South St. Paul house explosion

At least one person is dead after a home in South St. Paul reportedly caught fire and exploded Thursday morning.

Firefighters were called to a house on Ninth Avenue South near Spruce Street just before 6:20 a.m.

“I heard a big loud boom and it shook my house,” Donna Johnson, who lives nearby, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

“Another one went off, I jumped back … then we saw the fires,” her husband, Dave Johnson, added.

Other neighbors called 911, including Esperanza Lopez, who described her call to a dispatcher.

“I just say my neighbor’s house exploded,” Lopez explained. She was like ‘What do you mean, exploded?’ It completely exploded.”

Lopez says her husband tried to get close to the burning home to see if he could help but the fire was too big.

South Metro Fire Chief Mark Juelfs says after crews extinguished the flames, one person was found dead inside the garage. However, authorities haven’t yet publicly identified that person or even released the victim’s gender or age.

Responders are still working to determine if anyone else was inside the home and spent most of the day overhauling the scene and searching for additional victims. A cadaver dog was called in to help with the search but didn’t find anyone else.

Chopper 5 flew above the area and captured the extent of the damage, which left the home burned to its foundation and only the garage still standing.

Neighbors are now waiting to learn about the family that lives in the home. A family friend and another relative told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that the mother who lives at the home wasn’t there Thursday morning and is safe.

“It was crazy how fast it happened,” Lopez said.

“Very sad for what happened. … Life is too short, you don’t know, so very uneasy that it happened in our neighborhood so close,” Donna Johnson said.

Nearby homes had some minor damage but no other injuries were reported.

Police and fire investigators are asking anyone with information to contact police at 651-413-8300.

Crews respond to a fire at a home in South St. Paul (KSTP).
Smoke billows from the scene of a fire in the south metro on Nov. 30, 2023. Credit: MnDOT