South St. Paul house reduced to rubble after fire, reported explosion; 1 person dead

A person was killed and a home in South St. Paul was reduced to rubble following a reported explosion and fire Thursday morning. 

Officials said they were called to an explosion at a house at 1221 9th Avenue South around 6:18 a.m. Upon arrival, the house was fully engulfed in flames and neighboring homes had some fire damage, South Metro Fire Chief Mark Juelfs said. 

Fire officials said one person was found dead in the garage, but the victim has not been identified. Authorities are searching the rubble for any additional victims, but they cannot confirm how many people were in the house at the time of the incident.

A neighbor, Ed Withuski, told FOX 9 he heard an explosion around 6 a.m. and then looked out his window and saw flames. He said other neighbors said their houses shook at the time they heard the explosion.

"I was just waking up, it was around six in the morning. I was drinking my coffee and heard that boom and then I looked out that window. Well, I heard the sirens and then I looked out the window and huge flames shooting out, probably about 30 to 40 feet," Withuski said. "You could tell that it had to be a house that was on fire, it was pretty big, big fire they had going there."

Mike Schuno, another neighbor, told FOX 9 he had just gotten up when his whole house shook. When he looked outside, he saw flames coming out of what he believed was the kitchen window, and within seconds the whole house went up in flames. He noted he heard a few more smaller explosions as the house was on fire.

"I've never seen a house go up so fast in flames," Schuno said. 

Schuno noted a man and his mom, who is in a wheelchair, live in the home. All of their vehicles were still in the driveway Thursday morning, he said.

SkyFOX flew over the home at 8:30 a.m. The house was nearly leveled, with a few exterior walls still standing. 

Fire officials are working to determine what caused the fire. 

This is a developing story, check back for updates. 

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A South St. Paul home was reduced to rubble after a fire on Nov. 30, 2023.