ST. CLOUD (AP) -- Two people were seriously burned when a house exploded Wednesday morning on the south side of St. Cloud. Officials suspected some sort of gas leak was the cause.
The man and woman were flown by helicopter to the burn unit at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, a spokeswoman for St. Cloud Hospital said. Steven Schwarzbauer, 28, was in serious condition Wednesday afternoon, while Kelly Raschke, 24, was in satisfactory condition.
Assistant Fire Chief Tom Neal said Schwarzbauer was awake and on the first floor of the rented two-story house when it exploded around 6:40 a.m. He suffered second- and third-degree burns to about 40 percent of his body.
Raschke, who rented the upper level, was asleep. Neal said she suffered second- and third-degree burns over 25 percent of her body.
No one else was injured. The blast leveled the house, blew out the windows in a neighboring house and scattered debris across the neighborhood. Residents reported feeling the blast for blocks around, and thick smoke could be seen for miles.
The cause was under investigation, but fire officials said they suspected a gas leak or gas main problem.
Police said one of the victims smelled gas and heard a hissing sound coming from the basement just before the explosion. Xcel Energy shut off the gas to nearby homes as a precaution.
Police investigators ruled out any criminal activity as a possible cause.
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