Fargo, ND Natural Gas Explosion, June 1960
The large pipe -- a foot or more in diameter -- led up from a sealed-off tunnel below the building, located between NP Avenue and 1st Avenue North and 11th and 12th Streets.
Edward H. RIshel, of Dilworth, who was working in the NSP manufactured gas plant across the alley from the area where the blast occurred, said he heard an "awful noise," looked out and
"I saw smoke all over the place, pouring out the door. Debris was falling all around."
Thick chunks of flying concrete which had been part of the floor which covered the tunnel caused at least one of the deaths and many of the injuries.
Harry L. Silk, manager of the Fargo division for Northern States, said, "We believe it was gas of some sort which ignited, but we aren't sure even of that as yet."
In recent years most of the 40 by 63 foot buildings had been used as a storage place for NSP equipment. The west end was used to store coal.
The men were preparing to convert the building into a storage area and headquarters for the natural gas crews.
The sealed-off tunnel had housed a belt to convey coal underground from the building to a coal gas manufacturing plant which formerly was located just to the south. It was torn down several years ago.
When NSP discontinued the manufacture of gas from coal in 1952, the tunnel was sealed under the building.
Silk said the company had no idea as of late Wednesday night what material exploded.
Silk emphasized, however, that natural gas had nothing to do with it.
NSP will discontinue manufacturing gas here after it starts receiving natural gas in November from fields in Alberta, Canada.
But the natural gas transmission line has not been laid from Canada as yet.
Manufactured gas service here was not affected by the accident, Silk said.
Daily Journal Fergus Falls Minnesota 1960-06-02