House explosion kills 1, injures 1 in River Falls

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A house explosion in River Falls, Wisconsin Monday night killed one person and injured another

According to the city of River Falls, police and firefighters responded to the 400 block of River Hills Road on the report of a residential house explosion Monday night.

There were two people inside the residence at the time of the explosion. One of the victims was transported to Regions Hospital and the other to River Falls Hospital. On Tuesday afternoon, River Falls police announced that 75-year-old Martha Gaustad had died in the explosion and 42-year-old Kari Gaustad remained hospitalized in stable condition.

Neighbors said the home was still on fire when they helped the victims escape in the immediate aftermath of the explosion.

"I looked over and saw the massive fire that was happening," Travis Ridley said about when he went outside his home, after hearing the explosion. Then I could hear the daughter screaming ‘my mom’s still inside.’"

He and a few other neighbors rushed into the burning rubble and found a woman in what should have been inside her home. However, the explosion blew part of the house away and she was found next to debris outside.

Ridley said it took them a few minutes to remove her oxygen tank that was stuck under debris. He added that what was left of the home was starting to burn, quickly.

"If we couldn’t have gotten her oxygen tank out she would not be with us right now," Ridley said. "We were lucky to get her out and hopefully she’s OK."

As they pulled her to safety, fire crews started to put out the flames as utility crews checked to make sure other homes in the area were safe.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation. City Administrator Scot Simpson said, "We don’t have any reason to believe that it’s criminal based on what we’ve seen so far."

A neighbor has started a GoFundMe account for the family.