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Gas Fire Explodes in Indianapolis

November 11, 1997

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ A fire on a loading dock touched off a series of explosions at a propane storage facility on the city’s south side today, sending fireballs rising into the pre-dawn sky.

A worker loading propane onto a truck when the blasts started was taken to a hospital, where he died. Fire department spokesman Rick Batza said the person’s name and cause of death were unknown.

The pre-dawn explosions shot fireballs hundreds of feet into the air above Thermogas, a propane distribution center. The blasts and fire destroyed three trucks, each loaded with 100 propane cylinders, and threatened to ignite two 33,000-gallon storage tanks filled with liquefied propane, Batza said.

Firefighters trained their hoses on the fire and the two large tanks, preventing the tanks from exploding. A smaller propane storage tank exploded, sending flames and debris 300 to 400 feet into the air.

The tank ``was just pealed back like a piece of fruit,″ Batza said.

The cause of the fire, which forced the evacuation of nearby homes, was not immediately clear.

``We heard the explosion and we weren’t sure what it was. We got up and looked out the window, and it was blowing up again,″ said Theresa Spurlock, who lives nearby.

Firefighters brought the blaze under control within an hour.

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