A man trapped in his home as it was leveled by a suspected natural gas explosion late last month died Tuesday.
John Lundahl, 80, died at Regions Hospital in St. Paul from injuries suffered in the Nov. 23 blast in the 600 block of Payne Avenue, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Firefighters discovered Lundahl buried under insulation and debris. It took several of them to get him freed amid the flames. Firefighter Joaquin Rosales was the first person to discover Lundahl, he recalled last month. Rosales called out to his colleagues, and with the help of about four other firefighters, pulled Lundahl out as several spot fires burned around them.
“You could hear him calling out,” Rosales recounted Monday afternoon. “Immediately I just began doing my job. I’ve never experienced anything like this.”
Not only was Lundahl’s home destroyed, but five other buildings were condemned by the city. Fourteen other buildings, including homes and garages, had damage such as broken windows and cracked walls and ceilings. The cause of the explosion remains under investigation, fire officials said.
“I would expect this one to take a little longer,” St. Paul Assistant Fire Chief Mike Gaede said last month. “Nothing’s been ruled out.”
Gaede said there were no updates about the possible cause, but officials said a gas leak could be responsible.
Jerry Schaefer had just opened his nearby floral shop, Jerry’s Roses, and said the blast knocked merchandise off the shelves and rattled his windows. He said he saw flames shoot as high as 50 feet into the air.