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Latham, KS Propane Gas Explosion, Oct 1979

BLAST LEVELS BLOCK.

Latham, Kan. (UPI) -- A propane gas tank exploded like a "bomb" in Latham's only cafe minutes after closing Wednesday night, killing two employees and nearly leveling an entire block of the small town.
The blast, heard 15 miles away, killed the two women managers of the Latham Cafe, who were alone inside cleaning up, and injured five other people in the southeastern Kansas town of 200.
"It sounded like a loud bomb," said Bruce Reed, 14, who was riding his motorcycle about a block away when the explosion occurred shortly before 7 p.m. "It looked like you would think an A-bomb would look."
Five buildings, including some housing city offices and the post office, were destroyed or heavily damaged.
The two women, CARLA HODGES, about 40, and KATE BING, 31, were apparently alone when the propane tank exploded. Authorities said the popular restaurant had just closed for business.
The force of the blast threw MRS. BING from the building. She died two hours later at a Wichita hospital. MRS. HODGES was found in the rubble about 1 1/2 hours after the explosion.
None of the five other people injured were hurt seriously. A woman was hospitalized but was listed in good condition today. The rest were treated and released.
Authorities said a meeting of about 40 members of the Eastern Star women's ground had been scheduled to meet in a community building adjacent to the cafe later in the night.
Windows were reported broken out throughout the town of 200 and at least one witness said the explosion was heard 15 miles away.
Authorities at first were not certain how many people were inside the cafe and searched through the rubble for several hours before determining that everyone had been accounted for.
Investigators from county and state offices were sent late Wednesday to the small town to investigate the cause of the blast.

Logansport Pharos Tribune Indiana 1979-10-25

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