Thursday, August 3, 2017

One construction worker dead, another injured in ceiling collapse at Holland Civic Center in Michigan

Updated on August 2, 2017

By John Tunison

HOLLAND, MI -- Police say a person working on Holland Civic Center renovations has died in a construction collapse involving a ceiling.

The collapse involved overhead concrete, Holland police said.

A second worker, both subcontractors on the $16 million renovation project, was seriously injured and taken to Holland Hospital.

The accident happened about 3:10 p.m Tuesday, Aug. 1 at the civic center, 150 E. Eighth Street.

Police have not released the names of the two workers.

Holland police Capt. Keith Mulder said a handful of workers were in the area of the center's east entrance when the collapse happened. He said the collapse involved a small area.

Mulder said the person who died was trapped for about 15 minutes. The other worker was not trapped.

Construction vehicles at the scene included those from GDK Construction and X-Treme Demolition.

Holland Mayor Nancy DeBoer expressed the city's condolences to the deceased worker's family.

"It's a very tragic accident and our hearts go out to the families involved," she said. 


One person was killed after the roof collapsed at the Holland Civic Center in Holland, Michigan.

Two people were initially trapped; one has already been freed and sustained serious injuries.

The second was freed but was pronounced dead at the scene.

Today at 3:13 pm, Holland Department of Public Safety police and fire units were dispatched to a report of a ceiling collapse at the Holland Civic Center. Upon arrival, officers and firefighters found one person trapped in the debris and a second person injured near the collapse. Both subjects were working for a sub-contracting company, which is involved in the renovation work at the Civic Center. The collapse involved a small area near the east doors.

The Civic Center has been undergoing renovations since the spring. The construction project spans four square blocks between 8th and 9th streets. It includes expansion and improvements to the Farmers Market, gym renovations and new lighting and sound to the stage. The north hall is also being expanded to provide year-round indoor market space and more recreation space.


HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — A man was killed Tuesday afternoon when part of the ceiling collapsed at the Holland Civic Center, which is undergoing renovations.

The Holland Department of Public Safety says the collapse happened around 3:10 p.m. and involved a small area near the front door. Responding police and firefighters found one person trapped under concrete debris and another injured nearby. The scene where one person was killed and another seriously injured in a partial ceiling collapse at the Holland Civic Center, which is under construction. (Aug. 1, 2017)

Firefighters freed the man who was trapped within about 15 minutes, Holland DPS Capt. Keith Mulder said, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The second man was rushed to Holland Hospital with serious injuries. Holland Hospital told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday afternoon his condition was stable.

Neither man’s name was released Tuesday afternoon, but authorities said both were subcontractors working on the renovations.

The cause of the collapse is not yet known. The scene where one person was killed and another seriously injured in a partial ceiling collapse at the Holland Civic Center, which is under construction. (Aug. 1, 2017)

“It’s a very tragic accident and our hearts go out to the families,” Holland Mayor Nancy DeBoer said at an afternoon press conference. “The time right now is to think about them, share in their grief and pray for their families.”

When asked how the city would move forward, DeBoer replied, “One step at a time.”

“We’ll work it out and there will be an investigation,” she continued.

The Civic Center was built in 1954, DeBoer said. The construction project there has been underway since the spring and spans four square blocks between 8th and 9th streets. It includes expansion and improvements to the Farmers Market, gym renovations and new lighting and sound to the stage. The north hall is also being expanded to provide year-round indoor market space and more recreation space.

One of the lead contractors on the project is GDK. State records show that GDK was cited in February 2016 for duty to have fall protection and twice in March 2016 for asbestos violations — the only three citations in 14 inspections since 2013.

Older workers are dying on the job at a higher rate than workers overall: In 2015, about 35 percent of the fatal workplace accidents involved a worker 55 and older — or 1,681 of the 4,836 fatalities reported nationally.

Older people dying on job at higher rate than all workers

BY Maria Ines Zamudio and Michelle Minkoff, Associated Press August 2, 2017 at 1:12 PM EDT

Poor women are four times more likely to be jobless by the end of treatment than their better-off peers, according to a study published Monday in Health Affairs. Photo by srisakorn/via Adobe

Older people are dying on the job at a higher rate than workers overall, even as the rate of workplace fatalities decreases, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal statistics.  

It’s a trend that’s particularly alarming as baby boomers reject the traditional retirement age of 65 and keep working. The U.S. government estimates that by 2024, older workers will account for 25 percent of the labor market.

Getting old — and the physical changes associated with it — “could potentially make a workplace injury into a much more serious injury or a potentially fatal injury,” said Ken Scott, an epidemiologist with the Denver Public Health Department.

Gerontologists say those changes include gradually worsening vision and hearing impairment, reduced response time, balance issues and chronic medical or muscle or bone problems such as arthritis.

In 2015, about 35 percent of the fatal workplace accidents involved a worker 55 and older — or 1,681 of the 4,836 fatalities reported nationally.

William White, 56, was one of them. White fell 25 feet while working at Testa Produce Inc. on Chicago’s South Side. He later died of his injuries.

“I thought it wouldn’t happen to him,” his son, William White Jr., said in an interview. “Accidents happen. He just made the wrong move.”

The AP analysis showed that the workplace fatality rate for all workers — and for those 55 and older — decreased by 22 percent between 2006 and 2015. But the rate of fatal accidents among older workers during that time period was 50 percent to 65 percent higher than for all workers, depending on the year.

The number of deaths among all workers dropped from 5,480 in 2005 to 4,836 in 2015. By contrast, on-the-job fatalities among older workers increased slightly, from 1,562 to 1,681, the analysis shows.

During that time period, the number of older people in the workplace increased by 37 percent. That compares with a 6 percent rise in the population of workers overall.
The workplace fatality rate for all workers — and for those 55 and older — decreased by 22 percent between 2006 and 2015. But the rate of fatal accidents among older workers during that time period was 50 percent to 65 percent higher than for all workers.

Ruth Finkelstein, co-director of Columbia University’s Aging Center, cautions against stereotyping. She said older people have a range of physical and mental abilities and that it’s dangerous to lump all people in an age group together because it could lead to discrimination.

She said she’s not sure that older workers need much more protection than younger workers, but agreed there is a need for all workers to have more protection. “We are not paying enough attention to occupational safety in this country,” she said.

The AP analysis is based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census for Fatal Occupational Injuries and from one-year estimates from the American Community Survey, which looks at the working population. It excludes cases where the cause of death was from a “natural cause,” including a heart attack or stroke.

AP also examined the number and types of accidents in which older workers died between 2011, when the bureau changed the way it categorized accidents, to 2015:

— Fall-related fatalities rose 20 percent.

— Contact with objects and equipment increased 17 percent.

— Transportation accidents increased 15 percent.

— Fires and explosions decreased by 8 percent.

“We expect that there will be more older workers increasing each year and they will represent a greater share (of the fatalities) over the last couple of decades,” said Scott, the Denver epidemiologist. “This issue of elevated risk is something we should be paying close attention to.”

An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found in 2013 that 44 percent of older Americans said their job required physical effort most or almost all of the time, and 36 percent said it was more difficult to complete the physical requirements of their jobs than it was when they were younger.

William White Jr. said his father had been working in the same Chicago-based warehouse for over a decade and was a manager when he fell to his death on Sept. 24, 2015.

“My dad was the best at what he did. He’s the one who taught me everything I know,” the 26-year-old Chicago resident said. “He went up to get an item for the delivery driver and the next thing you know he made a wrong move and fell. The job is fast-pace and everybody is rushing.”

Thomas Stiede, principal officer for Teamsters Local 703, said White knew the safety procedures and he can’t understand why White didn’t wear a safety harness. “He was a very conscientious employee,” he said, his voice cracking with emotion.

Testa Inc. was fined $12,600 by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failing to provide safety training. The company declined to comment for this story.

The same year White died, the fatal accident rate in Illinois for older workers was 4.5 per 100,000 workers, 60 percent higher than the comparable rate for all workers.

In most states, the fatal accident rates for older workers were consistently higher than comparable rates for all workers.

Nevada, New Jersey and Washington had the greatest percent increase in fatal accident rates for older workers between 2006 and 2015.

The three states with the biggest percent decrease were Hawaii, Oregon and Vermont.

Eight states saw their overall workplace fatality rate drop, even as the rate for older workers increased: Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New York, Texas, Utah and Washington.

In two states — North Dakota and Wisconsin — the trend was reversed; older worker accident rates decreased while the accident rate overall increased.

In metropolitan areas, Las Vegas ran counter to the national trend.

In 2006, the fatal accident rate among older workers in the Las Vegas metropolitan area was lower than the rate among all workers. But by 2015, the rate of deaths among older workers more than doubled even as the rate among all workers declined.

Transportation accidents account for a large portion of fatal workplace incidents among both older workers and workers in general.

In one such incident, Ruan Qiang Hua, 58, died last Nov. 21 from injuries suffered in a forklift accident at Good View Roofing and Building Supply warehouse, according to the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration. After a bag of mortar fell from the pallet, Qiang backed up and rolled off a ramp. The forklift tipped over and Qian was crushed when he jumped off.

The agency fined the San Francisco-based company $62,320, saying it had failed to ensure that forklift operators were competent and wore seat belts.

The company is appealing the penalties, according to OSHA.

Records show that Hua was not properly trained or certified as a forklift operator. Video of the incident showed he was not wearing his seatbelt. Other video from the worksite showed that other forklift operators also had not used their seat belts and that the employer failed to install a curb along the sides of the ramp to prevent the lifts from running off the ramp. The company declined to comment.

In California, the 2015 rate of fatal accidents was 3.4 per 100,000 workers for older workers, 60 percent higher than the rate for all workers.

The AP analysis showed that older workers were involved in about 1 in 4 fatal workplace accidents related to fires and explosions from 2011 to 2015.

In April 2014, Earle Robinson, 60, and other employees were doing maintenance work at Bryan Texas Utilities Power Plant, about 100 miles north of Houston, when there was a loud explosion. Workers called 911 and pleaded for help.

“He’s in bad shape. He’s got a lot of facial burns,” according to a transcript of the 911 calls. “He’s got some pretty bad burns.”

Robinson was taken to a hospital in Houston and died days later. The company declined to comment for this story.

The year Robinson died, the fatality rate among older workers in Texas was 6.1 per 100,000 workers — 43 percent higher than the accident rate for all workers.

The National Center for Productive Aging and Work is pushing for changes in the workplace to make it safer for older workers. The year-old center is part of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

“We advocate to make workplaces as age-friendly as possible,” said co-director James Grosch. For example, increased lighting helps older workers whose eyesight has weakened with age.

He said the center is emphasizing productive aging, looking at “how people can be more productive, how their wisdom can be leveraged in a workplace.”


Montana 4th highest in nation for older workers dying on job

Wed., Aug. 2, 2017, 11:22 a.m.
Associated Press

Montana ranks fourth in the nation for the ratio of older workers killed on the job, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal statistics.

In 2015, 16 workers ages 55 and over died in Montana workplace accidents for a rate of 12.58 deaths per 100,000 workers. At least 10 older workers have died each year since 2006.

Nationally, about 35 percent of the fatal workplace accidents involve a worker 55 and older. In Montana, 16 of 36 deaths in 2015 – or 44 percent – involved older workers.

The Department of Labor and Industry says nearly 6.5 percent of Montana’s labor force is age 65 and older, the second highest percentage in the nation. Another 96,000 workers are between the ages of 55 and 64.

Montana had the third-highest worker death rate in 2015, with 7.35 deaths per 100,000 workers. That’s down from 11.49 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2007.

A construction worker, 50, was killed Wednesday when a concrete foundation wall fell several feet onto him as he worked inside a trench at a home in Medford, Mass.

MEDFORD, MA (WHDH) - A construction worker was killed Wednesday when a concrete wall fell several feet onto him as he worked at a home in Medford.

Fire officials said crews responded to a home on Highland Avenue for a report of a worker that was trapped in a trench. Officials said the wall collapsed as he was making repairs to the home’s foundation. The wall fell about 5 to 6 feet, landing on him and pinning him underneath.

The worker, a man around 50 years old, was taken to Mass General Hospital with serious injuries. He was later pronounced dead.

“What we’re here for is to send our condolences to the family, and the co-workers that witnessed this, along with the homeowners, that I’m sure this will weigh heavily in all their hearts,” said Medford Mayor Stephanie Muccini Burke.

The man’s name was not released, pending family notification.


MEDFORD, MA — A 50-year-old man died after what officials are calling construction accident on Highland Ave. Wednesday afternoon.

The Middlesex DA's Office confirmed that the man, who has not been identified, was working in Medford alongside the foundation of a building. The foundation collapsed, fatally wounding him. Police responded around 2:44 p.m. The man was transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The case is being investigated by state and local police, as well as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The death is not being considered suspicious.

A construction worker has died after a concrete wall collapsed onto him in Medford, Massachusetts, Wednesday, according to the mayor.

The incident occurred at 786 Highland Ave. just before 3 p.m., according to the Medford Fire Department.

The worker, a 50-year-old Massachusetts man, was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital with serious injuries. He later died from those injuries.

The Middlesex District Attorney's Office said preliminary investigation suggests that the worker had been working alongside the foundation of the building when it collapsed, striking him.

Construction Worker Killed in Medford, Mass.
A construction worker is dead in Medford, Massachusetts after the foundation of a building collapsed, striking him.(Published Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017)

The cause of death has not been determined, but it is not considered suspicious.

Massachusetts State Police, Medford police and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating.

Driving under the influence charges are pending against an off-duty Philadelphia police officer who authorities say crashed into four parked cars in North Philadelphia.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Driving under the influence charges are pending against an off-duty Philadelphia police officer who authorities say crashed into four parked cars in North Philadelphia.

It happened just after 6 a.m. Wednesday along the 1500 block of North Street in North Philadelphia.

Officials say the 40-year-old off-duty officer, who is assigned to the 22nd district, hit at least four parked cars.

One resident, who does not want to be identified, says he was asleep when he was awaken by the sound of 'boom, boom, boom.'

"Then a huge one. That was the Honda Civic hitting the wall," the man said.

A Honda Civic, one of the four cars struck, was slammed up against a row home on the block. A motorcycle was also hit.

The resident says he ran out to confront the driver who appeared to be highly intoxicated.

"He couldn't stand up. He was ready to fall over. He was drunk," the resident said.

The resident says the off-duty officer who was driving a Jeep tried to say it wasn't his fault.

"He said that a truck or a car hit him and pushed him into everything," the resident said. "I was like, 'Yo, there's no damage on the back of your car, nothing hit you, like you're lying, you're drunk.'"

Off-duty officers strike 4 parked cars. Gray Hall reports during Action News at 4:30 p.m. on August 2, 2017. (WPVI)

Then the resident says he and others at the scene got spooked when they noticed the driver had a gun.

The 40-year-old cop was taken into custody by on-duty officers who took him in for a breathalyzer:

"The breathalyzer was administered and the results were .198 blood alcohol content from the breathalyzer. That's more than twice the legal limit. The legal limit is .08," Philadelphia Police Captain Sekou Kilibrew said.

Residents on the block were dismayed over who the alleged driver turned out to be.

"It's sad, he's supposed to be a police officer and protecting the city," resident Amir Head said.

The officer, who has been with the department for four years, has been placed on administrative duty while charges against him are being reviewed by the district attorney's office.


PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia police say an off-duty police officer was drunk when he crashed his car into four parked vehicles.

Now, the 40-year-old, four-year veteran is on administrative duty while the district attorney's office reviews pending charges against him including drunken driving.

The officer hit the cars in north Philadelphia about 6 a.m. Wednesday. One of the four vehicles hit was pushed into a row home. One resident who heard the crashes tells WPVI-TV they ran outside to confront the officer who could barely stand.

Police Capt. Sekou Killebrew says a breath test showed the officer's blood-alcohol content was 0.198 percent, nearly two-and-a-half times the state's limit of 0.08 percent.

Nobody was hurt in the crashes.

Fire caused by unattended candle at the 8-story high rise Greenhill Apartments in Midland, Texas forces almost 200 people to evacuate

A fire caused by an unattended candle left the residents of Greenhill Apartments displaced Monday night.

No one was seriously hurt in the fire, which was reported about 6:30 p.m. at the building, 1010 Eastlawn Drive.

Resident Gil Hansen, who has lived in his apartment on the eighth floor for 13 years, said he left a candle burning when he visited another apartment.

"Everything in that apartment is gone, flames were shooting out the window," he said as he watched the Midland Fire Department work. He said he heard the smoke alarm sounding and ran to the apartment, where he tried to extinguish the flames. His efforts failed when the fire extinguisher emptied without putting out the blaze.

Midland Fire Chief Chris Coughlin said the building sustained smoke throughout, and the American Red Cross and Arc of Midland were on scene to help the 174 residents who reside in the building.

The parking lot of Midland High School, across Eastlawn Drive from the apartment complex, was being used as a staging area early during the response, Midland Police Sgt. Chris Komara said. Residents and family members, as well as others watching firefighters work, filled the lot.
"Everyone is cooperating," Komara said.

Among those still on the scene well after the flames were extinguished was Rebecca Lobodzinski, an Arc of Midland social worker. She was making sure residents had access to their prescription medications as well as food and a place to stay for the night.

Numerous residents said the smoke alarms sounded in the building and told them to remain in place. As much as an hour later, firefighters and Midland Police were in the building escorting residents out.

Additional firefighters from Larkin Township and the Auburn-Williams fire departments were called to the scene to assist, as well as a Midland County Sheriff's Office deputy.


"The alarm went off. I opened the door to check and found there was smoke.”

Nearly 200 people were forced to evacuate an eight story high rise after a fire erupted in a top floor apartment.

Now all wondering when they will be able to go back home.

It's a story we've been following closely since the news broke Monday night.

It took four fire departments to put the fire out, with crews escorting tenants out and others rescuing people from balconies.

The apartment fire started around 7 Monday night at the Green Hill Apartments in Midland on East Lawn Drive.

Disaster relief crews and several fire departments worked quickly to escort everyone out with only what they could carry.

They say it started in a man's room when he wasn't home, setting off sprinklers and alarms throughout the building.

"Everyone was evacuated and that was a pretty lengthy procedure. People sheltered in place. Fortunately, we could come in and remove them as time allowed. Frankly, it went pretty well,” Chief Chris Coughlin, Midland Fire Department said.

Nobody in the apartment was hurt, and three firefighters were checked out for smoke inhalation.

The cause has been narrowed down to two possibilities, smoking or a burning candle.

Around 170 different units were evacuated, leaving more than 190 people looking for food and shelter.

Now, several organizations are stepping up to help.

Everyone who lived inside has spent the day getting what the need from inside, and many are bringing it back to the high school right across the street.

That’s where the Red Cross has set up shelter.

"I figured, as usual, somebody just burned something so I closed the door and I waited,” Tasha White said.

Tasha White, along with everyone else who call the apartments home remembers the alarms, the smoke and a knock at her door.

"The fireman knocked on the door and said we had to get out, and he basically rushed me. The only thing that I was allowed to get was my keys,” White said.

She even left her cat, Buddha behind.

"I had already fed him and he's good at the hiding away and making sure he doesn't get into any issues,” White said.

Heidi Nelson was on the seventh floor, just feet from the fire above.

"There was smoke and water coming all over outside my door, so I slammed my door, went to the balcony and the fire department was coming up to get me at the same time,” Nelson said.

"We soon realized that the residents wouldn't be getting back in for the evening,” Kristy Gallagher said.

The Red Cross sprung into action, setting up a shelter across the street at Midland High School.

"We reached out to one of our shelter contracts, Midland High, and we were able to set up shelter within an hour or so. We had about 29 residents stay the night last night we are just continuing sheltering today."

Tenants could return to their apartment with an escort on Tuesday to grab essentials or in Tasha’s case her beloved cat.

Now it's a waiting game.

"My hopes is I can get a box at least for pain in the butt, here,” White said.

Disaster relief crews tell us it could be more than a week before people can go back to their homes.

Minnehaha Academy receptionist Ruth Berg and staff member John Carlson killed in a natural gas explosion caused by negligent contractor Master Mechanical doing work on the building

 Ruth Berg, killed by the blast
 staff member John Carlson, killed by the blast

A natural gas explosion at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis on Wednesday collapsed part of the building, killing two people and hospitalizing nine others, officials said. The explosion was caused by contractors doing work on the building, Minneapolis Assistant Fire Chief Bryan Tyner said.

The fire department had been searching Wednesday night for an individual who had been reported missing when they found the second body, Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel told reporters. 

Authorities had not identified the victims as of Wednesday night, but said those killed were both staff members from Minnehaha Academy. 

In separate statements, Minnehaha Academy identified the victims who were killed in the gas explosion as receptionist Ruth Berg and staff member John Carlson. 

"Minnehaha Academy is deeply saddened. Earlier today, a gas leak caused an explosion at our Upper Campus. As result, administrative staff were injured, and as of this time, we must also report the loss of a member of the Minnehaha family, Ruth Berg. Ruth worked for Minnehaha Academy for 17 years. As our receptionist, she welcomed everyone with a smile and was always willing to go the extra mile to help our students, families, and staff. She will be greatly missed. Please keep Ruth's family, and our school community, in your prayers.

Please also keep in your prayers a staff member who is unaccounted for, those who were injured and are currently receiving medical care, and family members."

Berg worked for the school for 17 years, the school said in a statement. "As our receptionist, she welcomed everyone with a smile and was always willing to go the extra mile to help our students, families, and staff," the statement read. "She will be greatly missed. Please keep Ruth's family, and our school community, in your prayers."

Ruth Berg


"Minnehaha Academy is deeply saddened by today's events. Tonight we report that we have lost alum and staff member John Carlson. John Carlson was Minnehaha's biggest cheerleader and a long-time presence in the school. He graduated from Minnehaha in 1953, sent his children here, and after retiring from his first career he came back to work at the school. John will be deeply missed. Please keep John's family, Ruth's family, those who were injured, and our school community, in your prayers. Thank you to all of the emergency responders in their efforts, and thank you to the community that has shown such support throughout this tragic day."

Carlson was an alumnus and staff member, the school said, who was "Minnehaha's biggest cheerleader and a long-time presence in the school."
"He graduated from Minnehaha in 1953, sent his children here, and after retiring from his first career he came back to work at the school. John will be deeply missed," the statement read.


"This morning our prayers are with Minnehaha's facilities team member Bryan Duffey and his family. We pray for his healing and for the wisdom of the doctors and nurses caring for him at this time.
Our hearts and thoughts are with all of those in the Minnehaha Community. We continue to pray for the families of John Carlson and Ruth Berg. We are thankful for the outpouring of support from emergency responders and members of the community. Thank you."

Fruetel said all construction workers who had been renovating the building were accounted for, and Minnehaha Academy said all its summer program students and staff were also accounted for. 

The nine people who were injured were taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center, but five have since been discharged. All are adults. One of the victims remains in critical condition, while the other three are satisfactory.
Dr. James Miner of Hennepin County Medical Center told reporters the patients had fractures and head injuries, but no burns.

Explosion caused by contractor work

Two floors in the center section of the building collapsed over a sub-basement, Fruetel said, and there was heavy damage all through the school. The structural integrity of the building is still in question. 

Becca Virden, a spokeswoman for CenterPoint Energy, said crews were called to the area of a school boiler room to assist first responders and make the area safe.

The Christian school said there was a gas leak and explosion at its multistory Upper School, which houses grades 9-12. The academy has about 825 students in grades pre-K through 12, housed on two campuses. The 2017-18 school year is set to begin August 23. 

"I would imagine it would have been a lot more significant if it was (during) school time," Tyner said. "It is a good thing that it's the summertime and probably limited the amount of people that were in the building."

Witnesses detail harrowing scene

First responders said it looked like a "great big hole" in the building where the collapse occurred, with flames shooting from one side of the building. Officer Dean Milner said two civilians on scene helped rescue one man who was buried beneath the rubble.

Milner said officers were battling through thick flames and the smell of gasoline to rescue the unidentified adult male. Officers also warned people nearby to get away in case of a second explosion. 

Officer Vicki Karnik, one of the first responding officers on the scene, said the explosion reminded her of the 2007 Minneapolis bridge collapse that killed 13 people and injured 145. 

"I was kind of having a flashback, especially with it being 10 years ago [yesterday]," she said. 

Video broadcast by WCCO showed smoke and flames rising from the debris.
Jack Mahler was warming up for a soccer practice nearby when he heard two sprinting men yelling "Gas!" and "Get out!" Shortly after, there was a huge explosion that knocked him off his feet, he told WCCO, "and then it was just kinda chaos from there."

Three people on the roof of the school needed assistance getting down, officials said. 

John Barron, who lives across the street from the academy, told the station the blast shook his windows and startled his dogs.

The center section of the building collapsed, authorities said.

The private academy has about 825 students in grades Pre-K through 12.
"I saw that where the building used to be one continuous building, (it) now had a gap," he said. "I could see sunlight all the way through to the other side."
Gov. Mark Dayton pledged resources for first responders. "I thank the many firefighters, paramedics, and law enforcement officers who rushed to the scene this morning, and who are working still to ensure the safety of our children, adults, friends, and neighbors," he said in a statement.

Friends, loved ones mourn victims in vigil

Hundreds of friends, neighbors, co-workers and community members gathered for a vigil Wednesday night for the victims of the explosion. The vigil was held at the Minnehaha Academy Lower & Middle School, which quickly filled. 

Jeff Wagner, a WCCO reporter, tweeted that many of the mourners donned Minnehaha Academy clothes and colors as they bowed their heads in prayer and joined hands in song. 

The vigil lasted more than an hour and included speakers who emphasized the importance of retaining a religious faith in times of tragedy and praying for those who have been affected by the incident. 

"Let this be a reminder to each and every one of us, no one got up this morning thinking that this was going to happen," one of the speakers at the vigil said. "People were just going to work, people were just serving in their position."

Minneapolis city records show Master Mechanical Inc. was issued a permit on June 7 for "gas piping and hooking up meter" at the school's address.

A statement from Master Mechanical early Thursday said its employees were among the injured. The company said it was grateful to the first responders and bystanders who came to the aid of all the injured. The contractor did not say how many of its employees were hurt.

Master Mechanical has twice been cited for workplace violations in recent years, according to the newspaper. Jenny O'Brien, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said in 2010 there was a violation related to protecting an employee from falling. In 2014, the company had paperwork violations.

Statement from Master Mechanical, the contractors working at the Minnehaha Academy when gas line was hit.