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Town Angry Over Lack of Warning Before Explosion

March 26, 1990

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. (AP) _ Town officials reacted angrily to news that state regulators knew - but didn’t warn anyone - about safety violations at a propane gas company that has been implicated in a fatal bank explosion.

Propane leaks are the suspected source of the blast at the Crested Butte State Bank on March 6. Three people died and 14 were injured in the explosion.

Salgas Inc. of Crested Butte owns the underground propane lines that service the town’s business district.

The Denver Post reported Saturday that state Public Utilities Commission documents show that inspectors have found a host of violations at Salgas’ Crested Butte operation.

The documents showed that the company had no record of required leak surveys in the business district where the bank exploded, nor a record of leak repairs to the pipeline, installed in 1972.

″I think it is inexcusable that the PUC wouldn’t notify jurisdictions of these violations by the gas company,″ said Mike Miller, district manager for the Crested Butte Fire Protection District. ″It’s pretty tough to take action on things you don’t know about.″

Town Manager William Crank said he learned of the report the week of March 11. He said he requested copies from the Public Utilities Commission and after failing to recieve it, eventually obtained the reports from a Denver television reporter.

Mayor Wes Light said he also was upset when he learned of Salgas’ safety record. ″I would hope they would notify municipalities in the future,″ he said.

Salgas executives say leaks found near the bank were not a cause of the powerful explosion, but resulted from it.

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