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Investigators Believe Gas Leak Caused Explosion

January 2, 2013, 6:01 PM by Don Jorgensen

Investigators Believe Gas Leak Caused Explosion
BALATON, MN -

Cold winter days can turn deadly as we saw earlier this week in the small town of Balaton, Minnesota, where a house on North Maple Street exploded Monday after a propane gas leak, killing the homeowner.   Teresa Kirst suffered serious burns and had to be taken to a Minneapolis burn unit on New Year's Eve, where she later died. Now investigators are warning others about the deadly consequences of a gas leak.

You can barely recognize anything that's left after Kirst's house exploded Monday morning. A collection of charred dolls still sitting on a shelf is about all.  One thing you can see is how powerful a propane gas explosion can be.

"It's a real tragic event," Larry Schreier of Tracy, Minnesota, said.

Schreier, who lives in the area, stopped by to see the destruction for himself because this isn't the first time it's happened. 

"Really close to where I'm living now, there have been two explosions in a short period of time.  Really makes a guy wonder; it scares me to death this propane," Schreier said.

The state fire marshal has been on the scene and as of right now, he believes the house explosion was caused by a propane gas leak.

Investigators say it's a deadly reminder for everyone to have their furnaces and other gas appliances inspected routinely to make sure they are in good working order.

"If you smell LP gas at all in your house, get out right away.  Do not stay in the house.  Call 911 right away and exit the house right away," Volunteer Assistant Fire Chief Troy Wendland said. "Do not mess with any light switches or anything like that; just get out of the house."

Kirst lived in the house by herself and was known to most people in this small town.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family.  It's a very sad deal anytime you lose somebody in a small community like this, it's not good," Wendland said.

Another gas explosion seriously injured a family in Tracy, Minnesota, back in September.

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