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1 injured in West Duluth building explosion

A worker was removing floor adhesive when the blast occurred, according to fire officials.

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Crews from Dryco Duluth work at the scene of an explosion 5805 Grand Avenue in West Duluth Monday evening. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)
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A property owner suffered minor injuries when a former dental office undergoing renovations was damaged by an explosion Monday afternoon in West Duluth.

Much of an exterior wall was blown off the building at 5805 Grand Ave. at approximately 1 p.m. Acting Assistant Fire Chief Mark Herman said the worker was removing floor adhesive when the explosion occurred, causing the partial collapse.

The building is owned by Carlton Rohne, who identified himself as the involved worker on Facebook. He was seen at an urgent care facility, but was not seriously hurt.

"Well guys I’m glad to be alive!" Rohne wrote on Facebook. "My building blew up and threw me outside. I’m fine, just a couple scratches and some singed hair. But please pray that my insurance pulls through."

Rohne, who could not immediately be reached for comment, is a tattoo artist. Property records show that he purchased the building in June for the price of $140,000. The building had been owned for the previous two decades by George Balach, who operated it as a dental office.

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Herman told the News Tribune that there was an apparent pressure buildup, causing a "quick explosion" that resulted in only a few spot fires, which crews quickly extinguished. The exact cause remains under investigation by the Duluth Fire Marshal's Office.

Herman said contractors were on the scene Monday night continuing to remove debris in order to get a closer look at the severity of the damage.

"There are concerns with the structural integrity," he said. "So right now we're concerned with getting the demoed material out of the way and getting things shored up and keeping it safe from people going in."

The building, constructed in 1957, is abutted on the opposite side by the Duluth Chiropractic Clinic, which did not sustain any damage and was able to remain open. The Shake It shop next door also was not damaged, but was forced to close its drive-thru.

081319.N.DNT.EXPLOSION.C02.jpg
Crews from Dryco Duluth work at the scene of an explosion 5805 Grand Avenue in West Duluth Monday evening. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

Related Topics: ACCIDENTSWEST DULUTH
Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or tolsen@duluthnews.com.
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