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Resident talks about blast that leveled trailer home: Investigation continues into cause

WORTHINGTON -- Now ensconced in a Worthington care facility following several days in the hospital, Robert Powers is covered with evidence of his recent ordeal.

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Robert Powers and his dog, Cash, are recovering following the blast that leveled their rural Brewster home, shown here in a photo taken July 1. (Tim Middagh / Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- Now ensconced in a Worthington care facility following several days in the hospital, Robert Powers is covered with evidence of his recent ordeal.

Bruises and burns are visible on his body, his hair has been cut to get rid of its burned ends, and part of one eyebrow is missing. He also has broken ribs and has to endure breathing therapies to improve his lung function.

Somehow, Powers and his dog, Cash, survived an explosion last Friday morning that leveled the trailer home in which they lived in rural Brewster.

Powers remembers getting out of bed early that morning -- probably about 4:30 a.m. -- to let Cash outside to do his business. He accompanied the dachshund on its outdoor trek and was outside the trailer for 10 to 15 minutes, he estimated.

“We came back in the house, and we both jumped up on the bed,” related Powers. “I heard this click, and I raised my head up and seen this glow -- like it is in the movies when an explosion is coming toward you.”

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Powers said he remained conscious as the force of the explosion tore the trailer around him apart. “I think the thing that saved me was the mattress on the bed. It somehow wrapped around me, and then something whacked me,” he said, lifting his shirt to reveal a deep purple bruise covering much of his back.

The emergency call came into the Nobles County Law Enforcement Center at 5:58 a.m. July 1 and the Brewster Fire Department was dispatched to the 38000 block of 210th Street.

Powers had to “push a bunch of crap” off his body in order to get up after the blast, and had a piece of tin wrapped around his left leg, which required the help of a rescue worker to remove, he remembered.

“I was just trying to stay as calm as I could,” in the immediate aftermath, Powers said. “I heard somebody come up the road and say, ‘Anybody in there?’ and I said, ‘Yes, and I need help.’”

Powers, previously a general contractor who built homes in the Sioux Falls, S.D., and Spirit Lake, Iowa, areas, has lived in the trailer -- a rental unit located on a piece of property owned by John Strouth near the Hersey Cemetery southwest of Brewster -- for approximately two years. It’s not the first time he’s had a near-death experience, he shared, giving an account of “being zapped 16 times in the heart … and a guy in a white gown standing in front of me.”

Powers is perplexed about the cause of the blast.

“Why would the gas be on?” he questioned. “But the blast came from right where the furnace was.”

The state fire marshal was called in to investigated the scene. According to Jen Longaecker, public information officer for the Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division, the cause of the explosion is still under investigation. Once the case is closed a report will be made available.

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Meanwhile, Powers is recuperating from his injuries and had a visit from his canine companion, Cash, Wednesday at the care center. He is hoping to find a new place for both of them to live once he is sufficiently recovered to leave the facility.

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