State officials are investigating a fire and possible explosion at a housing development in Lakeville after a worker burned in the fire died as a result of his injuries.
Chris Cahoon, 35, was injured Thursday morning when a fire started in the basement of a house where he was doing construction work. Cahoon, who was a construction manager, according to his Facebook page, had been checking heaters in the basement.
The Lakeville police and fire departments responded to a 9:30 a.m. 911 call and found Cahoon. He was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, and he died late Thursday afternoon, according to his uncle, Steve Manhart.
The state fire marshal and Lakeville Fire Department are investigating the cause of the fire.
The state Occupational Safety and Health Division, often called Minnesota OSHA, started its investigation Friday. Construction has been halted at the site during the investigations, Lakeville Fire Chief Mike Meyer said.
A spokesman for homebuilder Lennar Corp., Cahoon’s employer, confirmed the death, and said, “Safety is a priority at Lennar, and we are investigating the circumstances of this tragic accident. Until we conclude that investigation, it would be inappropriate for us to speculate as to the details of the accident.”
The Minnesota OSHA investigation will determine whether any of the agency’s workplace safety standards were violated. If there were violations, Lennar could face a $25,000 fatality penalty. If OSHA finds evidence of a “willful or repeated violation,” the penalty doubles.
Cahoon’s is Lakeville’s third workplace death in less than a year. In June, a 51-year-old man was killed in a trench collapse at a construction site, and in November, a 28-year-old man died in an industrial roller accident at a factory. OSHA investigations into both incidents are still open.
Cahoon, who had worked construction jobs at different companies, was engaged and living with his fiancée and her daughter in Inver Grove Heights, Manhart said. A passionate outdoorsman, he is also survived by his mother and sister.
“He was a genuinely good guy,” Manhart said. “The world is worse off not having Chris around.”