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Fire caused propane explosion Friday that rocked Dickinson, N.D.

DICKINSON, N.D. -- Officials confirmed a fire caused a blast that rocked Dickinson residents early Friday morning and say it was a miracle no one was injured.

DICKINSON, N.D. -- Officials confirmed a fire caused a blast that rocked Dickinson residents early Friday morning and say it was a miracle no one was injured.

A fire in the West Industrial Park building for B & B Hot Oil Services Inc, of which the ignition source is unknown, is partly to blame for a propane explosion, said Dickinson Rural Fire Department Chief Curt Lefor.

Nearby homes shuddered and debris littered fields more than a mile away, with residents across town reportedly jolted out of bed by the 4:37 a.m. blast.

Nearby subdivisions experienced such powerful shock waves that windows broke, walls cracked and objects blew off shelves.

Surrounding businesses felt the blast's wrath, too, and while many are cosmetically damaged, some are structurally damaged as well.


"It lifted it right off, tore the bolts out of the concrete and everything," said Dave Olheiser, owner of Olheiser Masonry Inc., located about 200 feet north of B & B Hot Oil Services.

Olheiser said the blast tore complete electrical mains off the wall, yet surprisingly, a furnace located next to the electrical boxes went untouched.

Mike Bertelsen, owner of Black Hills Trucking Inc., located kitty-corner from the B & B, said the intense explosion blew tiles out of ceilings, pushed out a wall and bent and opened large garage doors.

"It's got electric door openers ... I don't know what caused it," Bertelsen said. "Somehow it made the damn things go off."

Basin Filtration Systems & Tubin' Testin', located one building away from the blast site, also suffered extensive visible and structural damage.

Alvin Thornton, a Basin employee, said the force laid over a hot-water heater in the building, causing gas pipes to break, filling the shop with natural gas.

Fire officials said several surrounding buildings had to be cut off from gas and electricity because of safety concerns.

Lefor said no damage estimates would be available for about a month.


Throughout Friday, the cause of the rupture remained a mystery.

Blane Fugere, Dickinson, and owner of B & B Hot Oil Services Inc, was renting half of the now nonexistent building, about a 50-foot by 60-foot space.

Stark County Sheriff Clarence Tuhy said the building is owned by Dickinson residents Dan Krebs and Steve Forester.

Two large hot oil trucks, each carrying two tanks of propane gas, were housed in Fugere's half.

Propane is believed to have been leaking from the trucks, and once a fire ignited in the building, the combination caused the massive blow.

"It (propane) did come obviously from the trucks, but I don't specifically have a location on it," Lefor said. "The explosion is secondary to the fire."

The blasted building had no natural gas flowing through it, thus the furnace was not running, Lefor said, adding electricity was flowing through the building.

Luckily, it was early enough in the morning to where no one was present during the incident.


"This is going to be ugly," Fugere said. "It was a bad thing, and I don't feel 100 percent responsible for it, so that's about all I can say."

Though City Building Official Melvin Zent said damaged buildings will need to have structural engineers determine conditions, it appears many of the buildings expanded like balloons.

In a press conference Friday at Dickinson's Law Enforcement Center, Stark County Emergency Manager Brent Pringle confirmed no hazmat concerns resulted from the blast.

Deputy State Fire Marshal Donald Temple said the blast shot debris in all directions.

"It's more of now trying to piece things together to see what went where and how it was put in that place and where it belongs," Temple said. "Here we have a major destruction so that ... it's going to be tough."

The Press and the Herald are both owned by Forum Communications Co.

Related Topics: DICKINSON
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