West St. Paul, MN Propane Tank Explosion, Jan 1974
FOUR DIE IN PROPANE TANK FIRE, EXPLOSION.
West St. Paul, Minn. (AP) -- A propane storage tank exploded in the middle of a large apartment complex early Friday, heavily damaging two apartment buildings. Authorities said at least four persons were killed and nine injured.
Officials said the explosion occurred as firemen arrived on the scene to fight a fire which had broken out on a tanker truck loading the storage tank.
Most apartment residents had been evacuated before the explosion but authorities expressed concern that some may have been trapped in the building by the explosion.
"We've asked everyone to check in with us because we're very concerned we'll be finding some bodies inside," said Russell Scheibel, director of public safety.
The known dead included three firemen and a woman resident of one of the buildings.
Of the injured, four were admitted to hospital's where their conditions ranged from satisfactory to good by midmorning. Five others were treated and released.
Scheibel said firemen had just arrived "and were hooking up the hoses when it just blew up."
The explosion, which occurred about 12:30 a.m., sent a huge fireball into the air that could be seen in downtown St. Paul, some four miles away.
Scheibel said the storage tank held 10,000 gallons and the tanker truck had a capacity of 16,000 gallons.
With temperatures at 6 degrees below zero, flames swept the 66-unit Bellows Court apartment building and spread to the 33-unit Charlton Arms building, both three-story structures. Only a shell of the Bellows Court building was left intact, witnesses said.
An estimated 750 families were evacuated from 15 apartment buildings in a four-block area as a precautionary measure.
Fire Chief Don Hove reported about 6 a.m. that the fire had been brought under control and the danger of another explosion had apparently passed.
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