20 Years Ago: Gas Explosion in St. Cloud Killed Four, Led to Safety Changes

20 Years Ago: Gas Explosion in St. Cloud Killed Four, Led to Safety Changes

Kirsti Marohn | MPR News

On a sunny Friday morning on Dec. 11, 1998, a construction crew was installing fiber-optic cable near the Stearns County courthouse in downtown St. Cloud when they struck a natural gas line, triggering a leak.

About 40 minutes later, a massive explosion destroyed six buildings, including a pizza restaurant, bar, apartment units and a law office.

Four people were killed, including two Northern States Power Co. workers, an apartment tenant and a postal worker on her lunch break. Eleven others were injured, one seriously.

The explosion shook the busy downtown and left one block looking like a war zone, with piles of debris and clouds of dust. Eventually, the tragedy also led to changes in state law and safety improvements…(Read the full story)

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