Woman Who Survived House Explosion Speaks Out

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.

  • http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2011/08/16/woman-recalls-surviving-the-day-her-house-exploded/ Woman Recalls Surviving The Day Her House Exploded « CBS Minnesota

    […] [WCCO] Share this No comments // […]

  • markH

    “I was under wood and I started praying right away, ‘Lord help me”

    Take a walk through any Children’s Hospital and take a look at the faces of the little ones who are dying of horrible diseases. Often, they and their families are praying too, yet this elderly woman’s ego is so large that she assumes some unseen force is watching over her, and favoring her over these little children who have not experienced many of the great things life has to offer. Religion is quite self-centered and assumes that WE are the center of the universe. The most likely (and the only possible) explanation for this woman’t survival is simply a matter of probabilities-by her own admission if she had been anywhere else in the house she probably wouldn’t have been as fortunate. She doesn’t need to insult the little children who are dying of cancer by suggesting that her god favors her over them, because it’s immoral and nonsense. eace.

    • See BS

      Socialism is always such a bummer.

      Someone dipped Holly in Pretty Sauce today – she looks good in hot pink.

    • MN/WI Girl

      What a freak you are Mark!! Get a life…

    • Halleluia to the Old Lady

      Mark, you are an insensitive idiot.

    • Frank Rizzo

      I agree with you, markH.

      Totally disgraceful and dishonorable for any human being to declare that his or her deity chose to save them instead of the other people who died tragically that day.

      Christians have the least amount of character of anybody, outside of the muslims. Despicable people, really.

      • See BS

        You are the one spewing religious beliefs on this Story. It’s like non-religion bible banging.

        She is a sweet woman in the Story.

  • doc

    Try and get a room next to the pool as you burn in hell Mark.

    • Huxley

      I think you missed his point, cretin. There is no heII. Or do you honestly believe that there is a mean guy dressed up in red with a trident and horns on his head making eternity miserable for people who may not have followed the correct religion? You need to realize that you are not the brightest person and that your thinking skills are sub-par. People that are small minded enough to believe in fairies, santa claus, gods, the easter bunny, etc are not qualified to comment on public internet forums. Go pour some gasoline into a puddle and marvel at the pretty colors for awhile. Let the adults do the internet posting. Seriously.

      • doc

        Please wow us with your brightness and above par thinking. Your large mind has me on pins and needles awaiting your next adult internet post. Not Seriously

      • Frank Rizzo


        • Frank Rizzo

          By the way, this was intended to follow Huxley’s post.

          Doc, you are a toolbox with no working tools.

  • Chuck

    Mark; From comments like that I believe that you are a candidate for retroactive birth control!!!!

    • Huxley

      Is that a christian thing to say Charlie? You must not be very good at christianing. !!!

  • Jay

    THINK its a gas explosion??? Geez, who would have thought. I absolutely HATE having natural gas as my heating source! Even though the price is high for fuel oil, I still wish Id gone with a new oil furnace instead. I felt a 100x safer! Theres been way too many of these explosions to make one feel comfortable. I’ll listen to my gut instincts, instead of listening to some professional!

  • Jay

    Ms Harms, I am VERY happy you made it out alive. This could have been so much more serious.

  • really

    She thanks god for saving her, but why wouldn’t she be mad at god for letting her house blow up?

  • Realist

    On Tuesday, Harms, who is being treated at North Memorial Hospital, said it’s a miracle she survived.

    If it was divine inspiration that saved her, than you can’t deny that the act was divinely inspired.

  • MAJ

    Not mentioned in the story, but was told that she wanted the folks where she works to know she would not be in for her shift. Just a good country woman. So glad she is on the mend.

  • Victoria Meyer

    Wow , I can’t believe what I am reading !
    You bunch of cold hearted hypocrites. This story is about a woman who overcame death .
    Indeed it is sad that many diseased people have to struggle for life day by day, however this woman DID NOT say she was better than anyone, nor did she say she deserved to be saved . All she was saying is she thanked God . There is nothing at all wrong with that statement , and no where did she say she was better off than some dying child . Mark you should learn to control your anger better . Your comment was of pure anger and hate . Why ? We all thank something …some of us thank God, others thank “Their lucky stars ” some thank a spirit …what and whomever we choose to thank should not condemn us or make us hated . I feel for dying children, I really do as someone who had a close friend who lost her 9 month old due to an illness …I was angry for my friend questioning my beliefs …but what I failed to see is God is not evil and that this child who was born with 5 different severe health issues was better off in heaven ..that way he didn’t suffer and his parents are stronger than ever and love the children they have even better than before . We all have lessons in life to teach us to be better and stronger and more forgiving …no matter who or what you believe in.

    • let's get real, shall we?

      Overcame DEATH????
      She had some injuries. She wasn’t anywhere NEAR DEATH. Therefore, she didn’t overcome death.

    • markH

      I don’t think it’s anger so much as frustration and disappointment with those who claim their “deity of choice” will choose to save or protect them over others. I can see that this woman is glad to be alive (and I am glad she survived too) but for her to attribute her survival to the supernatural is just foolishness. If it is not foolish, childish, immature, and self-centered, then I do not think these words have any meaning. Peace.

    • A Man Called Horse

      “Pure anger and hate”?

      How dramatic. He basically said it was goofy and a misplaced thanks for her to be thanking an imaginary friend for saving her. It really came off as self-centered for her to say that, at least in the article.

      Calm down “Victoria Meyer”

  • pat

    God does see each of us as a special individual, he even knows when a sparrow falls, if this dear lady feels that her prayer brought her safety from a Loving God surely that is her right and should not be vilified for those beliefs
    The greates lie ever told and believed it that there is no satan, you need to educate yourselves further, when life is over on this earth you do have a final destination, now is the time when you choose that destination.

    • Counselor Mackey

      Pat, educating one’s self would not include religious text, as religious text is not accurate enough to be considered educational or historical. As a matter of fact, there is no scientific evidence that any single person or group mentioned in the bible EVER EXISTED with the exception of Pontius Pilate, and there is only a stone with his partial name carved into it as that scientific evidence.

      It would seem that you are the one needing education, pat.

      Good luck in your journey to find the REAL truth…

      • ohoh

        “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father, but by me”
        A quote from our Lord I have never seen such fear as from the notes written by the Christaphobes on this page.

        • Botanist

          No. That is a quote from a nomadic middle eastern man.

    • A Man Called Horse

      And pat steps forward to reveal herself as a completely crazy nutjob. You should have a caretaker to prevent such embarrassing events in the future.

      “The greatest lie ever told and believed is that there is no satan”?????

      Ding-Cuckoo! Ding-Cuckoo! Ding-Cuckoo!

  • Kyle

    Everyone is debating religion when this article comes down to simple facts. If you are old and smell like rotten eggs, or don’t have the ability to smell any more, or both, go out and buy a gas leak alarm. They are like smoke detectors but will let you know to get out of your house because of a gas leak due to deferred maintenance.

  • Victoria Meyer

    Ok, “Let’s get real” , She should have died ..If she would of been anywhere other than where she was she’d be dead ..So therefore she overcame/ defeated death.
    “A man called Horse ” I have seen enough of your posts to know that you feel above everyone and therefore you always have something negative to say… You are probably a fat, balding man , in his late 40’s, Divorced because your wife couldn’t stand you and your horrible personality..

    • A Man Called Horse

      Give up your side profession as a fortune teller. You just failed.

      I’m not even 37 yet, but my birthday is a week from today.

      I’m married with 5 children, and I have all my hair.

      Also, I completed P90x last spring, and am currently doing it again as I get in shape for the Moon Palace in Cancun soon. :) I’m 6-2 194 lbs.

      Nice try though.

      How about you, Victoria? I’ll say 55 years old, you wear a size 18. How close am I?

    • let's get real, shall we?

      You an predict death? For all you know she could have been sitting on the pot and when the explosion happened could have been blown out the bathroom window and landed on her neighbor’s chase lounge. How the heck do you know she would have died?

      Oh, that’s right. You’re a christian so you know it all. Whatever.

      @a man called horse – happy birthday!

      • let's get real -- oops

        “chaise” lounge… damn old keyboard!

  • pat

    Hi let’s get real, don’t put pearls before swine, the anger and hate just spews out of a man called horse, it should read a man called horses ass.
    Have a great day

    • mushroom stamper

      pat, you need to get stamped really, really bad!

    • let's get real, shall we?

      Actually, Pat, your preaching is going nowhere with me. I’d agree with a Horse’s Ass before I’d side with a damned condescending, closed-minded so-called Christian.

  • Victoria Meyer

    A man called Horse, sorry about the comment and it’s inaccuracy ! As far as your description on me , well you couldn’t be further off either I am 27, engaged to my children’s father, I am 5’6 and 102 pounds :D
    I work hard as a daycare provider in the summer and the 9 months of the year I work as a charter driver and go to school part time . If you have doubts I am using my real name you can view a picture on Facebook !
    As far as being christian , I do not classify my self as a religious person. All religions are filled with doubt and events and people who can’t be proved! But I know as much as many others do when it comes to religion ….which is amounts out to be just about nothing! Obviously I am not a christian nor am I a practicing christian , as described above I have lived a life as ”sinner” kids out of wed lock and cohabiting with their father :)
    So nice try !

  • http://www.naturalgaswatch.org/?p=844 This Week In Natural Gas Leaks and Explosions – Aug. 22, 2011 - Natural Gas Watch.org

    […] a 65-year-old woman beneath two stories of debris for two days in Clara City, MN, according to a story aired by a CBS affiliate in that state. Doctors said it was a miracle the woman survived. Her […]

  • Janice

    I would like to thank everyone for their comments.

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