Generator explodes at Rogers, Minn., apartment complex - KMSP-TV

Generator explodes at Rogers, Minn., apartment complex

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Photo courtesy Ian Inman Photo courtesy Ian Inman
ROGERS, Minn. (KMSP) -

A propane-powered generator exploded early Sunday morning, temporarily displacing residents of the Preserve at Commerce Apartments in Rogers, Minn., early Sunday morning.

VIDEO: Rogers generator explosions
IPOD VIDEO: Generator explosions continue

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office received multiple calls about the blast at 8:41 a.m., and investigators linked the explosion to a generator on the northeast side of the three-story complex located at 13600 Commerce boulevard. 

"It shook the room," Edgar Olivarus told Fox 9 News. "It literally shook the floor."

The force of the explosion blew out windows and forced residents to seek refuge in at the nearby Hampton Inn and Rogers 18 Theater to escape the frigid, subzero temperatures.

"We heard the explosion and our windows had blown in in all over our bedroom," Lori Peterson recalled.

Between 400 and 500 residents were evacuated in all, some of whom use walkers and wheelchairs to get around.

"Everyone was looking out for each other," Kristen St. Louis told Fox 9 News. "'Have you seen this person or that person?'"

Investigators believe the backup generator that is used to help heat the buildings on cold days malfunctioned and exploded, not a propane tank as was originally reported. Fox 9 News learned the generator, which is located just a few yards from the building, was activated on Saturday.

"I was in shock because I didn't know what was going on," Olivarus admitted.

Stunned residents and neighbors that weren't immediately near the blast were startled and confused by the massive rumble. 

"It was like an earthquake," St. Louis said.

When police and fire officials arrived at the scene, flames and smoke were seen coming from the generator. Gas continued to leak from the machine and caused several smaller explosions as well.

No injuries were reported, and most residents were allowed to return to the area after 2:30 p.m.

Tenants in at least 4 apartments are unable to return home, and the American Red Cross announced it is providing food and assistance to 9 people following the explosion.

The State Fire Marshal's Office and the Office of Pipeline Safety are investigating the explosion.

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