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Update; Some residents still banned from homes after explosion

By Heather J. Carlson

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Some families evacuated from their homes this week after a house explosion in a Rochester neighborhood will have to spend the weekend elsewhere.

Minnesota Energy has determined it is still not safe for the residents of six homes to return this weekend. The families have been out of their homes since early Wednesday morning when a house at 823 36th St. S.W. exploded; the resulting fire destroyed the house. The explosion happened after gas had spread underground from a leaking pipeline.

"We want to make sure we’re 100 percent confident that the gas has been removed," Rory Lenton, spokesman for Minnesota Energy, said Friday.

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Residents of five homes in the neighborhood have been allowed to return. Minnesota Energy has offered to pay for hotel rooms and meals for the evacuated families.

Lenton said Minnesota Energy is bringing in additional equipment to try to speed up the clean-up effort. He said the biggest challenge has been the frost, which has trapped the gas in the ground.

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