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Authorities Investigate Menno House Explosion

August 24, 2010, 6:01 PM by Brian Kushida

Authorities Investigate Menno House Explosion
MENNO, SD - A house explosion in Menno has killed a woman, and authorities are now combing for clues. Firefighters were called to the scene last night and spent today searching for what sparked the blast that a relative says killed Gail Guthmiller.

It was heard miles away -- a force so strong it blew open doors to neighboring homes in the middle of the night.

"We went to the residence and the house is gone, from an apparent explosion," Menno Fire Chief Huber said.

The deadly blast sent chunks of concrete airborne, punching holes in roofs. Its force blew out windows and scattered personal belongings a dozen blocks away.

"Some (debris was found) on Main Street. Where I live, I live on the other side of town, found some stuff," Huber said.

The damage was so severe that it made it difficult for officials to search for clues on what caused the explosion.

"There's not much left of the house. It's just bits and pieces," Huber said.

That sent the chief and his crew knocking on doors to find out whether anyone else was hurt. Next-door neighbor Gerald Schaffer was treated for minor cuts, while a man on the opposite side of the home was airlifted to Sioux Falls.

All proof of the power behind the blast.

Huber first thought a natural gas leak sparked the fire since it was connected to the home.

But he says he's leaving it up to the state fire marshal to determine a cause of the explosion.

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