1 year after explosion blast's effects still feltAt 4:37 a.m. one year ago, a massive propane explosion in Dickinson’s West Industrial Park rocked the city, causing extensive damage to nearby businesses and homes and some are now involved in a damage lawsuit.
At 4:37 a.m. one year ago, a massive propane explosion in Dickinson’s West Industrial Park rocked the city, causing extensive damage to nearby businesses and homes and some are now involved in a damage lawsuit.
Blane Fugere of Dickinson, owner of B&B Hot Oil Service, Inc., was renting about a 50-foot by 60-foot space in a building allegedly owned by Steve Forster and Daniel and Debra Krebs.
Two large, B&B hot oil trucks, each carrying two 200-gallon propane tanks, were being housed in Fugere’s half and propane was believed to have been leaking from an unknown source on one or both trucks, said Dickinson Rural Fire Department Chief Curt Lefor.
A truck located on the shop’s west wall had completely full propane tanks, said Deputy State Fire Marshal Don Temple, and a truck on the east wall had an empty upper tank and one-quarter of the lower tank remained.
The building had no natural gas flowing through it, but did have electricity, Lefor said.
Temple said Saturday a fire caused by a faulty light fixture in the building ignited materials that produced a fire and the combination created a booming blast which leveled the building and significantly damaged surrounding structures and homes as far as a mile away.
Six parties filed a complaint dated Oct. 5 against B&B, the Krebs’ and Forster, alleging the Krebs’ and Forster “negligently” rented to and/or maintained, monitored and supervised B&B, who the complaint also alleges “negligently” maintained and/or stored a propane truck resulting in the explosion, according to a copy of the complain.
The plaintiffs are seeking about $379,000 in damages.
Dave Olheiser, owner of Olheiser Masonry, Inc., was renting a building adjacent to the explosion.
Olheiser’s business was temporarily displaced and had to be relocated due to the building’s extensive damage.
The structure had to be completely replaced, he said.
“We weren’t able to get anything other than what we were insured for so we tried lawsuiting (sic) and that didn’t get us anywhere,” Olheiser said. “It was just mainly through the insurance companies.”
Jerry Kram, an owner of Basin Filtration Systems & Tubin’ Testin, another business adjacent to the explosion site, said about $300,000 was spent to make his building usable again.
“The whole deal didn’t stop me from doing business out of there, but it sure was an inconvenience for my three employees that were down there,” Kram said.
Despite some damaged buildings having been cleaned up, some of the mess remains and needs to be cleaned up as it could pose a safety hazard, Kram said.
Since the original complaint was filed, several cross-claims and counter-claims have been filed.
Marnell Ringsak, a Bismarck-based attorney who is representing the plaintiffs, said Friday that the defendants filed cross-claims against each other — B&B versus the property owners and vise versa.
Ringsak said it “looks like” the case is settling out of court.
“We haven’t wrapped it up in the sense we haven’t filed the concluding documents, but we’re getting close,” Ringsak said.
Settlement papers are due Wednesday, according to a case profile from the Stark County Courthouse.
However, a specific damage dollar amount total is unclear as not all who suffered damage are included in the court case.
Andrea Fonkert, public information officer for the North Dakota Insurance Department, said claims were not tracked as they were with a 2009 Dickinson tornado, and because numerous insurance companies and policy types are involved, finding a definitive number could prove nearly impossible.
A call to Randy Sickler, a Dickinson-based attorney representing B&B, went unreturned.
Fugere declined comment Saturday.
A call to the Krebs’ went unreturned Saturday.
A number for Forster could not be located.