Investigators early on ruled out an explosive device, Fruetel said, despite the presence of Department of Homeland Security personnel at the scene on Wednesday.
“It is too early to speculate, and this incident remains under investigation,” said CenterPoint Energy spokeswoman Becca Virden, adding that the company is working with Minneapolis Fire Department investigators.
Virden said the company’s early results point away from natural gas. But “it could be a different type of gas,” she said.
The two agencies strongly disputed a Star Tribune report in Friday’s paper that they were at odds over the explosion’s cause.
Neither Qobey nor blast survivor Hersi Hassan, 29, said they smelled gas before the explosion. Hassan, who spoke to the Star Tribune on Friday from his hospital room at HCMC, said the building was on fire when he woke up.
“I see a lot of fire,” he said, and then he told his sister, who also lived there: “Wake up! Wake up!”
He broke a window and jumped from his second-floor apartment. He broke his leg doing so and suffered minor frostbite after waiting outside for help for 45 minutes, he said.
Qobey broke both legs and his back when he jumped to the sidewalk 20 feet below his apartment window.
Both men said they did not hear any fire alarms.
After two inspections in 2010, the building’s owner was ordered to fix several safety problems. Those issues had been fixed, according to city records released Thursday.
HCMC said it is treating three people critically injured in the fire and five others in satisfactory condition. One person has recovered sufficiently to leave the hospital.
The University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, said that it is treating at least two victims, one in serious condition with broken bones and another in good condition with back pain. They were not identified.
A Red Cross official said it had helped two victims and stood ready with housing, food, clothing and mental health counseling for others displaced.
The Salvation Army plans to send people to the Brian Coyle Center, 420 15th Av. S., from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday to offer aid. The agency said it is housing three survivors and can help others with relocation expenses, household items, furniture and personal items. It’s also offering to help pay funeral expenses for the two men who were killed.
The Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota has opened a Wells Fargo Bank account to aid victims and their families. More information will be available on the organization’s website at http://csc-mn.org.
Augsburg College and the Cedar Cultural Center are organizing a benefit concert at the Cedar, just down Cedar Avenue from the building, for Jan. 24, according to a college spokeswoman.