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Woman Who Survived House Explosion Speaks Out

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The woman who was found beneath two stories of rubble after her 100-year-old farm house exploded is sharing her story of survival.

Janice Harms was trapped under debris after the Saturday morning explosion in Clara City, Minn. — about two hours west of the Twin Cities.

When help arrived, they discovered 65-year-old Harms under a pile of wood. On Tuesday, Harms, who is being treated at North Memorial Hospital, said it’s a miracle she survived.

“I was under wood and I started praying right away, ‘Lord help me,’ and I sat there for a minute, because I was knocked out, too,” Harms said. “I’m lucky to be alive. An angel was watching over me.”

Harms has numerous cuts and bruises on her face and body, she has a broken wrist and part of her thumb was crushed. But she said she feels good, just a little traumatized.

Harms recounted what she remembers about the explosion and said she was in her kitchen about to turn a light off when she heard a loud explosion.

“I wanted to turn off the light, but before I did, it went bang,” she said.

She said she was standing by her refrigerator, which kept the ceiling and parts of her house from directly falling on top of her.

“The refrigerator was kind of bent, but that’s where that area was where I could stay,” Harms said.

Had she been in any other spot in her home, Harms said she wouldn’t be here today.

Harms said she heard firefighters yelling her name and looking for her but was trapped for about 20 minutes before they found her buried under the rubble.

“I’d say, ‘I’m over here,’ and finally they came to this one side where I could get out. That’s where they found me and said, ‘Yeah, we found her,’” she said.

Doctors at North Memorial say she will likely have one more surgery this week, but she may be released by this weekend. Her doctors are using leeches to try and save her crushed thumb. Leeches keep the blood from pooling in the area and causing more damage.

“When Janice came in, she was awake and talking and I thought this can’t be a lady who survived being in a house that exploded,” said Dr. Mark Ahrendt, a trauma surgeon at North Memorial.

Harms plans to find an apartment in Clara City and eventually rebuild her home.

“I got sewer and water and want to put another home on it,” she said.

As for what caused the explosion, an inspector told Harms they think it was a gas leak. Harms said she didn’t remember smelling any type of natural gas before the blast.

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