Bar Destroyed When Gasoline Explodes in Sewer
...fireman examines debris; no injuries were reported bud damage heavy.
--Cincinnati Enquirer, Tuesday, January 29, 1974
by JIM ROHRER, Lebanon Bureau Chief
NEW VIENNA, OHIO – A series of five blasts, apparently caused by explosing [sic] gasoline in a storm sewer, rocked this village at about 8:45 a.m. Monday, destroying a bar and grill and knocking two homes from their foundations.
No one was injured in the blast, which occurred as village firemen were flushing gasoline from an overfilled tanker truck at the Mongold's Oil Co. bulk plant.
State Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials, firemen, life squad members, and the state fire marshal's office remained at the scene late Monday trying to determine if the area was safe and what sparked the thunderous explosion.
Four families were known to have been evacuated from the area and told not to return Monday, and natural gas all over the area had been temporarily shut off to guard against further explosions. [latter part of sentence not true according to note on the clipping.]
About 75% of the natural gas service was restored to this community of 900 some 60 miles northeast of Cincinnati late Monday night, firemen reported.
The elementary-junior high school building in town as also evacuated.
Hardest hit was the Monarch Bar and Grill on Main Street near the bulk oil plant.
An explosion in the storm sewer under the building blew out the plate glass windows and destroyed the interior of the building, although the brick structure stayed erect. No one was in the building at the time. There was no fire damage to the building, and firemen said the explosions did not appear to have caused any fire damage anywhere.
A frame dwelling belonging to Della Duff across Main Street from the Monarch was knocked off its foundations, but two men who live in the house were not at home. A third home nearby on a side street was also knocked off its foundation but no one was home.
Several walls in the Duff home were reported unsteady.
Assistant Fire Chief William Mahanes estimated there were five explosions, almost in a continuous series, as firemen hosed down spilled gasoline from the oil plant into the storm sewer.
He theorized that gas fumes might have built up in the storm sewer, and that a furnace spark might have ignited them. There was no estimate of damage.
An EPA response team was testing the area for more gas fumes, and it was hoped a determination could be made before midnight as to whether the area was safe.
The Mongold plant was not damaged. One observer noted that the oil plant sits atop a hill [a hill?!?], and all the buildings being rocks by explosions were downhill and in "valleys."
Firemen indicated that flushing gasoline into the storm sewer was a standard procedure. Charles Knauff, owner of the oil company, said he had three trucks parked at the plant at the time, and that all were stationary. He had no other comment.
Wilmington fire department also responded to the scene, which was roped off and evacuated.