Two survive house explosion in Harris

The investigation into the cause of explosion that caused the damage to this home in Fish Lake Township is ongoing.
Photo by Derrick Knutson

There’s yellow Chisago County Sheriff’s Office caution tape surrounding what’s left of an old farm house north of Fish Lake County Park, near Stark Road and Evergreen Avenue.
According to a press release from the Sheriff’s Office, at about 10:21 p.m. July 20, deputies from the office and firefighters from Harris, North Branch and Rush City were dispatched to a report of a home explosion in Harris. Officers from the North Branch Police Department also responded to the scene. When the emergency responders arrived, they determined both occupants, who were inside at the time of the explosion, were safely out of the residence. They were transported to a local area hospital for medical evaluation. The State Fire Marshall’s Office is handling the investigation to determine the cause of the explosion.
Chic Bellinger, who lives in the area, said neighbors heard and felt the explosion, and the damage to the structure is substantial.
Bellinger said he’s very familiar with the home, as he’s been “in and out of it for over 50 years.” He knows it as the old Erickson-Kempe farmhouse.
“The walls … It’s like one of those old-fashioned toasters,” Bellinger said. “It’s wider at the bottom than it is at the top. The back end, the porch, is blown off. The front door was out in the ditch, and there are pieces of everything all over the place out there.”
Bellinger said he heard a neighbor helped pull one occupant of the home out from underneath the debris.
“She was wedged in the east side, at about a 30-degree angle,” he said. “The home was blown off its foundation.”
Laird Mork lives about 1,300 feet away from the house.
“It was about 10:15 p.m., and we were watching the news; it was quite an explosion,” he said.
Mork said it was apparent the noise was from more than fireworks, which are occasionally lit off in the area. He said first responders were quickly at the home.
“It’s got to be a total loss on the house, for sure,” he said.

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