ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Looking at what’s left of a small, olive green home off Payne Avenue in St. Paul, it’s hard to believe someone made it out alive after the home exploded on Friday morning.

But 80-year-old John Lundahl did.

Jeanie Lundahl couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the video.

“Oh my god, I don’t know how he is alive. I don’t know how he survived that,” Lundahl said.

The home her brother-in-law lived in for 15 years was gone in an instant with a fireball shooting high into the air.

Pulled from the rubble by first responders, John Lundahl is now in the hospital with significant burns to his face and hands, as well as a broken pelvis and arm.

“I was told that he was talking in the ambulance until they got him to the hospital,” Jeanie said. “I imagine he was in shock.”

Jeanie heard about the blast hundreds of miles away in San Diego, where she lives for part of the year with her husband, Robert, John’s older brother.

She tells WCCO-TV John is a good man and a Marine, serving for four years right after he graduated high school.

“He followed his father in the Marines, so he decided he wanted to go in the Marines, too,” she said.

Because of his military service, the family hopes John can find a place at the local VA hospital, pending his release from Region’s Hospital in St. Paul.

For now, Jeanie is holding onto hope her brother-in-law will fully recover, but in the back of her mind, she is fearing the worst.

“To be honest with you, I just don’t know how he is going to survive all of these burns,” she said. “He’s going to be 81 years old in January. It’s just sad. So sad.”

The American Red Cross is helping multiple people in the neighborhood who were displaced after the explosion.

The official cause is still under investigation, but fire investigators suspect it was natural-gas related.

Mary McGuire

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