Propane blamed for apartment complex blast in Rogers, Minn.

Jan. 5, 2014 at 10:36 PM

ROGERS, Minn., Jan. 5 (UPI) -- A propane-fueled auxiliary heating unit was blamed for an explosion that emptied a 192-unit apartment complex in Rogers, Minn., Sunday, authorities said.

While the blast forced 400-500 residents of the suburban Minneapolis complex to evacuate into subzero temperatures, no one was injured, the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune reported. Most residents were expected to be allowed to go home Sunday night, with about a dozen units uninhabitable until repairs are made, the newspaper said.

Rogers police Chief Jeff Beahen said the 8:45 a.m. CST blast, which was felt up to a mile away, sent shards from shattered windows flying across rooms and knocked tenants of The Preserve at Commerce off their feet. Beahen said there were additional explosions and fireballs that reached four to five stories high over the next half hour or so until the fuel valve was turned off.

The chief said the complex sustained "fairly significant structural damage" to its walls in some sections.

While the exact cause of the explosion had yet to be determined, there was a problem with a unit above the complex's 5,000-pound, underground propane tank that converts LP gas into fuel used to help heat the apartments, the Star Tribune said. Beahen said the tank did not detonate.

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