ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Survivor John Lundahl and his neighbors are thanking first responders after the home explosion last week in St. Paul. Now, many are facing extensive damages to their own homes.
Many said that from the moment they felt it, they knew it was bad.
Lundahl’s home is completely gone, and several nearby were significantly damaged – so much so that people are forced to find new places to live.
“My personal first thought was that someone must have run into the building,” said Joaquin Rosales, a St. Paul firefighter.
Rosales was inside St. Paul Fire Station Four when the blast rocked the building. Responders were on scene within minutes.
“I was trying to just take a moment to slow things down and try and create calm out of chaos," he said.
Rosales remained calm until he realized someone was buried amid the rubble.
“I began to hear some noises, some moans and groans...a person that was buried under some cellulose and some debris,” he said.
Rosales and fellow first responders worked to get 80-year-old John Lundahl out of the rubble and put out spot fires while neighbors waited in disbelief.
“He seemed to be pushing it and fighting the fight already; to make it out of that is just amazing, that’s crazy. I don’t see how,” said neighbor Jonathan Laboda.
Laboda is now working to repair significant damage to his own home next door.
"All the plaster is falling off the walls, the windows are broke, ceiling is cracked and falling," he said.
Laboda's house and five other structures have been condemned since the explosion, leaving a total of roughly 16 people like him without a home.
“That’s like the end of us here...grabbing whatever stuff we can get through,” Laboda said.
As he and his roommates pick through the rubble inside their house, investigators work to determine what caused the explosion just next door - the explosion that was felt from a half a mile away.
In total, there were 20 buildings damaged. According to the fire safety manager, the blast alone caused damage up to one block away, and the debris flew much farther than that.