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Western Wisconsin News Briefs: Eau Claire family whose house blew up still on vacation

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news Ellsworth, 54011
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

EAU CLAIRE - The owners of a house that exploded near Eau Claire will not see the damage first-hand until they return from vacation tomorrow.

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Brian and Jennifer Pederson, and their three young children, were in Georgia when they learned that their home burst into a pile of rubble on Sunday. Jennifer Pederson tells the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram that she and her husband had 15 missed calls on their cellphones. At first, they thought a relative was ill - but they never expected to hear that their house blew up. They've seen photos of the wreckage, but Jennifer said it would hit her more once she views it in person. She said it would be nice to know what caused the blast.

The Leader-Telegram said it was apparently linked to the family's LP gas service - but it was not known what caused the gas to blow up. One neighboring house had heavy damage. Four others had lesser damage. No injuries were reported.

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The outgoing superintendent of the River Falls school district says he has less energy to face the challenges of the job. That tells him it was time to retire. Tom Westerhaus has led River Falls schools for the last five years, but has more than 25 years' time as a superintendent. He says tragedies in the last year have been tough to deal with. A 14 year old student, Sara Goldbach, died in a car crash a year ago. Then, two months later, three sisters were murdered by their father. Westerhaus says there were positives -- like his "Super Switch" program. He would spenda day in positions like teacher, cook and principal in all seven of the district's buildings. Jamie Benson takes over for Westerhaus July 1st. He signed a contract with the district yesterday.

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