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Natural Gas Suspected Cause Of Mitchell Explosion

June 4, 2012, 5:59 PM by Peggy Moyer

Natural Gas Suspected Cause Of Mitchell Explosion
MITCHELL, SD -

A Mitchell home is destroyed following an explosion Sunday evening. This is the third such explosion in the community in the last five years.

Authorities say it's lucky nobody was home at the time because this explosion was a big one.

The front porch is almost blown off the front of the house and the concrete foundation severely cracked. Fire investigators believe a natural gas explosion is to blame for all of the damage. Dale Meinke's daughter and four grandchildren live next door and were home at the time of the blast.

"The fireman was here and said get everybody out of here so they took off running for the park," Meinke said.

For everyone's protection, all gas and electricity was shutoff to the neighborhood for several hours.

"There's structural damage. The sill plates were blown out from around the foundation. Both the front and back additions have been blown off and somewhat separated from the house," Mitchell Chief of Public Safety Lyndon Overweg said.

Larry Weissner, the owner of the home wouldn't go on camera but told KELOLAND News that the woman renting the home wasn't inside at the time of the explosion. Investigators say she's lucky because the force of the explosion shattered windows and destroyed walls and appliances inside. While the fire department is still investigating the cause, a spokesperson for Northwestern Energy says ground testing Sunday night showed no trace of a gas leak in the area.

"Our reports last night showed no gas in the ground, which leads us to believe everything was inside the house," Northwestern Energy spokesperson Tom Glanzer said.

Investigators are still on the scene and conducting interviews with anybody who might have been inside the home in the last 24 hours as well as neighbors.

Mitchell's Chief of Public Safety expects the investigation to take a few days because of all the various agencies involved.

If anybody suspects they smell natural gas in a home, they are reminded to get out and call 911 immediately.

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