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Bemidji-area house explosion appears to be accidental

GRANT VALLEY TOWNSHIP, Minn. -- The cause of a Monday night house explosion that injured a Bemidji-area man appears to be accidental, officials said Tuesday. At the scene, debris confettied the snow white ground Tuesday, where the home once stood...

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The scene Tuesday from an explosion Monday night that left one Bemidji-area man injured. (Photo submitted by the Bemidji Fire Department)

 

 

GRANT VALLEY TOWNSHIP, Minn. -- The cause of a Monday night house explosion that injured a Bemidji-area man appears to be accidental, officials said Tuesday.

At the scene, debris confettied the snow white ground Tuesday, where the home once stood, particles strewn into surrounding trees from an explosion heard throughout the area the night before.

On Monday night, firetrucks, ambulances and law enforcement vehicles lined the driveway of an address southwest of Bemidji near the Grant Valley Township line. The Bemidji Fire Department identified the man as Kenneth Swenson.

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Dewey Mattfield, a retired state patrolman and neighbor, heard the explosion and was one of the first people to respond. Mattfield lives about a quarter-mile down the road.

"I could hear a voice hollering 'help' very weak," Mattfield said.

Mattfield made his way down the driveway to where his friend's house once stood and was able to find the source of the voice. Mattfield said he stabilized Swenson until emergency personnel arrived minutes later.

"He told me, 'Dewey, I'm really cold,'" Mattfield said. Mattfield recalled seeing a small fire on the east side of the property, but everything else was gone.

Swenson was transported from the scene by ambulance to Sanford Bemidji Medical Center at approximately 6 p.m. He was then airlifted to Regions Hospital in St. Paul. Swenson's wife confirmed he is in fair condition and doing well at Regions Hospital on Tuesday afternoon.

The cause of the explosion appears to be accidental and investigators believe it may be related to a propane gas leak in the home, according to a release issued by the fire department Tuesday.

Calls reporting the sound of an explosion started coming into the Beltrami County dispatch center Monday at 5:35 p.m. from residents in Beltrami County from Grant Valley Township as well as Hubbard County and as far away as Laporte, 25 miles southeast of Grant Valley Township. Some residents said the explosion had enough force to rattle windows and dislodge pictures from walls. The Bemidji Fire Department received a page at 5:36 p.m. and was on scene within six minutes. Firefighters cleared the scene just before 11 p.m.

The Bemidji Fire Department, Beltrami County Sheriff's Office and Minnesota State Fire Marshal's Office are investigating the cause of the explosion.

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