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One dead in Superior house explosion

A house on North 22nd Street in Superior burns after an explosion. (Photo courtesy of Shawn Johnstad)1 / 4
The burned house at 2219 N. 22nd St. in Superior can be seen from the 21st Street Viaduct on Monday afternoon. 2 / 4
Superior Police Officer Brad Jago speaks outside of the charred house at 2219 N. 22nd St. in Superior Monday afternoon, May 13, that exploded Sunday morning. 3 / 4
Superior Fire Department Battalion Chief Scott Gordon speaks outside of the charred house at 2219 N. 22nd St. in Superior Monday afternoon, May 13, that exploded Sunday morning. 4 / 4

One person died in Sunday’s house explosion in Superior, police said.

The victim, a man, is believed to be the home’s sole occupant, the Superior Police Department said in a news release Monday, May 13. The man’s identity is being withheld pending family notification.

According to the release, fire crews and police responded Sunday morning to a report of an explosion. First responders arrived to find the house engulfed in flames. Once the fire was extinguished, a body was found inside the structure, police said.

The police department has requested the assistance of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation. Superior Police Capt. Thomas Champaigne said the ATF bureau was called to help investigate the explosion’s cause.

The explosion appears unintentional, according to the release. Champaigne said there is no indication that the house was being used for a criminal operation.

“We’ve heard about Facebook posts that the house was a meth lab or something, but we have no evidence of that,” he said. “That’s just wild speculation (on social media).”

There is no danger to other neighborhood residents, according to the release.

The house is on the very edge of Superior’s Billings Park neighborhood. There are few homes nearby in an area at once remote, wooded, urban and industrial and bordered on three sides by railroad tracks just south of the 21st Street viaduct.

Standing in front of the house’s remains on Monday afternoon, Scott Gordon, battalion chief for the Superior Fire Department, said crews took extra steps to ensure that the fire didn’t spread across the grassy fields that surround the house.

“It’s still grass-fire season, and people don’t realize that because it’s been so cold and rainy,” Gordon said.

Several trees next to the house were on fire when Gordon arrived at the scene on Sunday, and he was concerned about a change in wind direction. Fire crews patrolled the area with drones for the next two hours, making sure that no embers from the scene blew into the grass.

The area where the fire occurred once was a neighborhood with homes, Gordon said. Much of the land now is owned by BNSF Railway, which operates the tracks that run nearby.