Loved ones, neighbors heartbroken for victim of St. Paul home explosion

Image 1 of 6

The owner who was inside the home at the time of Friday’s St. Paul home explosion remains in critical condition at Regions Hospital.

His relatives call him a dedicated "DIY" guy who is now undergoing surgery and has a long road to recovery ahead of him.

“It’s hard. It doesn’t look like him at all,” said Patti Eckert, the victim’s niece.

Among the loved ones surrounding 80-year-old John Lundahl at Regions Hospital is his niece Patti Eckert.

“His pelvis is broken... he lost a couple inches in his spine, he’s got the burns all over arms hands face and he’ll be 81 in January so, you know, he’s just hanging in there,” Eckert said.

Lundahl is fighting for his life after his home on the 600 block of Payne Avenue exploded Friday morning. Crews found him crawling out of the rubble.

At the scene Saturday, those who call the Payne-Phalen neighborhood home remain concerned as investigators look into exactly what caused the blast.

“I had to come and see it for myself, I just had to come and see it,” said Mary Mingo, a St. Paul resident.

“Everybody was just stunned that a house could just blow up like this,” Mingo added.

Victoria Kane is especially shocked.

“I knew immediately it was my grandparents’ house and I just started crying my heart just broke,” Kane said.

Growing up, the home belonged to several of Kane’s relatives. Her dad, Angelo Mastro, was born in it.

“He proposed to my mother in that kitchen,” Kane said.

“My beloved father died when I was a young girl, 14, and that place was always there as I could see it every time I went to the eastside and know part of him is still here and now that part is gone,” Kane added.

The home was then turned over to her Uncle John Mastro, the last of her family to live there. Kane said Lundahl took great care of the home, adding, “It was just gorgeous.”

Lundahl even let Kane and her mother tour the place in recent years.

“He was very charming, very pleasant, very gentle,” Kane said.

Kane’s heart is also with Lundahl as he begins the road to recovery.

“I hope for him that he has a nice, safe place and he’s able to live out the rest of his life,” she said.

A GoFundMe page has been launched for Lundahl in the wake of the incident.

Meanwhile, the St. Paul Fire Chief says it will be quite some time before they learn the exact cause of the explosion.