Gas explosion strikes Mitchell houseRenter not home at time; nobody injured
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
Mitchell police evacuated a block-and-a-half-wide area Sunday evening after an explosion rocked a west Mitchell neighborhood.
The blast, which authorities said was natural gas-related, was reported at 6:07 p.m. at 808 W. Second Ave. Nobody was home at the time, and nobody was injured.
Residents in the neighborhood were allowed home about two hours later.
“We definitely had a gas leak and separation on two additions of the home,” said Mitchell Fire Marshal Marius Laursen.
Immediately visible from the street was a slight tilt to the front of the home, where the top of the home’s front porch addition tipped away from the main structure.
Laursen said there was a similar detachment at the rear of the home.
“There was significant structural damage,” said Mitchell Chief of Public Safety Lyndon Overweg. “All walls in the building shifted.”
Kayla Fluth said she was sleeping on her couch next door at 802 W. Second Ave. when the explosion happened. The force of the blast shook her home and moved her couch several inches.
“The entire house shook like something fell on it,” she said.
Authorities declined to release the name of the home’s renter, who was reportedly in Sioux Falls at the time of the explosion. Davison County’s Internet property information system says the house is owned by Larry Weisser.
White smoke poured from the structure initially, and it was quickly cleared by Mitchell firefighters. No flames were visible.
Gas and electric crews from NorthWestern Energy first shut off electrical power and then natural gas.
Hanson County Emergency Management Director Kevin Kayser was covering for Davison County EMD Jim Montgomery, who was out of town at the time.
Overweg said Kayser will follow procedure and report the incident to public safety officials in Pierre.
Gas crews circulated throughout the neighborhood taking gas readings after utilities were shut off.
There was concern, Overweg said, that the explosion may have damaged other gas pipes in the area.
It was the third natural gas explosion in Mitchell since 2007.
A home blew up on Bridle Drive in 2007 and another exploded on Hanson Avenue in 2010. Nobody was injured in the Bridle Drive blast, but a man was severely burned in the Hanson Avenue explosion.
The Daily Republic asked NorthWestern Energy spokesman Tom Glanzer if NorthWestern is concerned about the frequency of explosions related to natural gas in Mitchell.
“We are always concerned with events like this,” he said. “One house explosion is one too many.”
Glanzer said there was an increase in the home’s gas usage during the past month, but he did not immediately know if that was related to the explosion.
NorthWestern crews will be in the neighborhood today to conduct “bar-holing,” which Glanzer said involves probing the ground for gas accumulations.
He said anyone smelling gas should leave the area immediately and call 911, and avoid turning on light switches or any electrical appliances.