Homer, MN – By Jeff Dankert, Winona Daily News

A couple escaped serious injuries Tuesday morning after their Homer Valley home exploded, likely from propane gas, a state fire marshal said.

Paul and Pat Ringwelski were asleep at about 4:15 a.m. when the explosion blew out most of their split-level home on Homer Valley Lane on County Road 15, about 3 miles southeast of Winona.

The blast destroyed the home and killed one of the Ringwelskis’ two dogs. The couple called 911 from a neighbor’s house, said Winona County Sheriff Dave Brand.

“Very lucky people,” he said.

Pat Ringwelski, 59, went to the hospital for shock and back pain and was resting at a neighbor’s home later in the morning, a neighbor said. Paul Ringwelski was at the scene helping investigators sort through the wreckage but declined to comment.

Debris stretched out 100 yards around the home, mostly wood splinters and pink wall insulation. Scraps flung into trees were still occasionally falling to the ground at 10:30 a.m.

State Fire Marshal Steve Wolf said the propane likely exploded within the home, but he did not know as of midmorning what ignited it. The house was supplied with propane, not natural gas, or methane.

“You couldn’t recreate this if you tried,” he said. “It’s pretty rare.”

Wolf said he investigates only two to three house explosions a year in southeastern Minnesota.

The blast centered on the south side of the home where a kitchen once stood, and the couple was sleeping in a bedroom on the north side, Wolf said.

“They were lucky that’s where they were at,” he said.

The explosion awoke neighbors in the semi-rural community and blew out a basement window and knocked photos off walls at Wendy Bublitz’s home about 700 feet away.