Firecrews respond to boiler explosion
Employees of a Blue Earth local law firm had to be evacuated during the lunch hour last Monday.
Members of the Blue Earth Fire Department responded to a call around 12:10 p.m. when a boiler in the basement of the Frundt & Johnson LTD office at 117 West Fifth St. exploded.
“Five of us were in the conference room — we were just going to start eating lunch. It was a big explosion,” says attorney Michael D. Johnson.
Seven employees inside at the time of the explosion were not injured and quickly cleared the building.
“The front door was wide open,” said an employee. “Someone thought maybe it was because of the blast.”
Assistant Fire Chief Mike Blumenschein says around 20 firefighters were at the scene for about one hour.
“There was no fire. There was a lot of steam from when the pipes burst,” Blumenschein adds.
Blue Earth police blocked public access to West Fifth Street. The Faribault County Sheriff’s Department and Blue Earth Ambulance also assisted.
The blast shook the building and knocked out telephone, electrical and computer service.
Papers and files stored near a stairway leading to the basement were strewn across some bottom stairs.
Hoods of some vehicles in a parking lot next to the building were covered with small pieces of debris.
“We really don’t know the cause. Whether it was gas or pressure in the pipes,” Blumenschein says.
By 12:49 p.m., authorities were allowing entrance back into the building. An hour later, electricity and phone service was restored.
Blue Earth Light and Water and Lennox Electric Service Company crews inspected the damage and debris. An official with Lennox says the boiler — which weighs approximately 1,000 pounds — was installed in 1956 when the building was constructed.
Attorney David Frundt says the law firm has been at the location since 1972. Before that, it housed a medical clinic.
The office was open for “limited” business on Tuesday.
Frundt expected the office to be back to full operation in three days.
The building was not left totally without heat. Johnson says the west and south ends of the building relied on the boiler.
A company was called in to scrub down walls and do other cleaning.
“I guess we’ll need to call in an architect to go over the building. To see if it is structurally sound,” says Johnson.