Minot, ND Oil Storage Tank Explosion, July 1947


Minot, N. D. -- (U.P.) -- Residents of neighborhoods near Minot's factory district returned to their homes today after a day of terror in which flames fed by gasoline and oil swept through four blocks of the industrial section and killed four men.
The fire started with explosions which destroyed three bulk gasoline and oil storage tanks of the Westland and Texaco Co. plants.
Many persons living on the fringes of the industrial area moved their possessions from their homes as the flames approached. Firemen limited their efforts to attempting to stop the spread of the fire. They were driven back repeatedly by the intense heat.
It was under control today but authorities isolated the district and assigned watchers to sound an alarm if the flames started up again.
Fire Chief GILBERT MALEK said he would attempt to determine the total property loss today. It was expected to reach more than $1,000,000.
Three other persons were burned severely when the explosions sent sheets of flaming oil onto the surface of the Mouse river running through the center of the town. It flowed along the river for a quarter of a mile but burned itself out before the flames endagered railroad bridges and structures along the river bank.
But in the four-block area shaken by the explosions, the flames destroyed two bulk storage companies, two creameries, a grain elevator, a tavern and a cafe.

Dead Listed.
The dead were listed as:
CHESTER WESTOM, 25, a shipping clerk.
ADAM RUNYEN, a plasterer.
ORTON NELSON, a member of the fire department who was burned while fighting flames. All were from Minot.
The injured were:
HOBERT MYERS, Surrey, N. D., airport manager.
EDWIN GROWN, Williston, N. D.

Wisconsin State Journal Madison 1947-07-22


Orton Nelson was my

Orton Nelson was my grandfather. I always knew he died as a fire fighter in a gas explosion, but to see and read it was beyond moving. Thank you so much. - Lisa