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Building collapses at Minneapolis private school, firefighters extricating victims

MINNEAPOLIS -- Fire and police emergency responders are on the scene of a building collapse at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis.

The Minneapolis Fire Department initially reported one fatality but later said the death was not confirmed. Firefighters were working to extricate people from the rubble of the school in the 3100 block of West River Parkway. A fire official said three people were unaccounted for shortly after 11 a.m.

Crews were checking the structural integrity of the building. The partial collapse of the school building possibly was caused by a natural gas explosion, the department said in a Twitter post at 10:46 a.m.

“It had to be a significant explosion that would take out that brick,” Brian Tyner, Minneapolis fire’s assistant chief of administration, said in a media update at the scene.

“There was a gas leak and explosion at the Upper School,” Minnehaha Academy said in a statement on its Facebook page. “Emergency responders are on the scene. This only affects the Upper School. If you need to pick up a person from the school, pick up on Edmond Blvd. We will keep you informed as we learn more.”

Ambulances were rushing to the scene at 11 a.m., according to a Pioneer Press reporter on the scene.

The St. Paul Fire Department sent crews to the scene to assist.

Minnehaha Academy is a private K-12 school that dates back to 1913.