Monday, December 25, 2006
A terrific explosion occurred in Lansford, North Dakota on this day in 1909. The home of Mr. C. Banks was thrown from its foundations by the ignition of natural gas in the house’s basement. The explosion was the first of its kind in the city of Lansford, and the event turned out quite a curious crowd.
A few minutes before the deafening explosion, Mr. Banks noticed that the gas in his house was not working properly, and asked Mr. Walker to accompany him to the basement to investigate the problem. When the two men opened the door to the basement, the lamp that they were carrying to light the way ignited the natural gas that had escaped into the room. Both men were seriously burned, and the house lifted itself six feet into the air. Five other persons were in the house at the time, but only two were seriously injured. Two outer walls of the house were blown eight feet outward from the basement foundation, and all of the doors were thrown from their hinges. The house immediately caught fire from the ignition of the gas, but the fire department arrived on the scene in time to prevent serious fire damage.
When a crowd gathered to investigate the cause of the explosion, they found the Banks’ house in ruins. All of the furniture in the $2,000 house was completely destroyed, smashed to bits by the force of the explosion. John Davis, the Lansford druggist, had been sitting in the kitchen, but somehow escaped without serious injury. This is fortunate when one considers that a coal bucket that had also been setting in the kitchen had been thrown into the ceiling of the room, and had stuck there. For some reason, the explosion had also overturned all of the stoves in the house.
News of the disaster spread quickly through the rural areas of Lansford, and “…the next day hundreds visited the scene of the accident and could hardly believe their eyes when they saw what havoc had been wrought.” Mr. Banks and Mr. Walker, whose skin had actually melted off in some areas, were expected to recover within a couple of weeks, although not without severe scarring.
The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican (Evening ed.). December 25, 1909: p. 2.
–Jayme L. Job