Crews will begin this week clearing debris from Minnehaha Academy’s Upper School, which was rocked by a deadly natural gas explosion this past summer, a school spokeswoman said.

The clearing of the site at 3100 West River Parkway is to start Tuesday, a little more than four months after the blast gouged the center of the building and killed receptionist Ruth Berg, 47, and janitor John F. Carlson, 82, and injured nine people, one critically.

After debris is removed over what is expected to take two weeks, the building’s destroyed center portion “will be pulled down,” according to a statement from school spokeswoman Rebekah Peterson.

Two major portions of the Upper School — the arts and athletic wings — “were not designed as stand-alone buildings” and have been reinforced because the center of the building no longer offers support, she said.

The upper school’s approximately 350 students in grades nine through 12 are in temporary lodgings at a former college campus in Mendota Heights.

When students will return to the location hasn’t been determined, Peterson said.

Paul Walsh