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Explosion in Lake Wilson

Justine wettschreck/Daily Globe Firefighting personnel respond late Tuesday evening to a vaporizer explosion at the grain elevator in Lake Wilson.

LAKE WILSON - In a town where just the thought of another big bang makes people flinch, the Lake Wilson Fire Department was Johnny-on-the-spot when a report of a vaporizer explosion came across the scanners Tuesday night.

The 10:20 p.m. explosion was reported at the Schmitz Grain Elevator, which is located directly across the street from Lake Wilson's fire hall. While some trucks were moved out of the hall, many of the firefighters simply donned their gear and ran across the street. To provide support and because of the proximity of other buildings, the Chandler Fire Department was dispatched for mutual aid. The Lake Wilson First Responders were also on scene in case they were needed.

There were no flames or destruction noticeable from the street as firefighters went about their duties, but activity suddenly picked up as a few curious onlookers did a quick lap around the neighborhood to check out the situation.

No injuries were reported, and both fire departments were back in their respective fire halls within a matter of hours. According to one employee, the only noticeable damage by Wednesday morning was the destruction of the shed which contained the vaporizer.

Less than six years ago, a late night explosion in June rocked the small town of Lake Wilson, leveling the town's fire hall and destroying all the firefighting equipment inside. That explosion was caused by a faulty forced heat furnace installation at the fire hall. A copper gas line that ran to the furnace in the hall cracked from the constant movement, leaking fuel vapors until they filled the building. When the pilot light on the furnace ignited, the fumes exploded with a bang that was heard and felt in neighboring towns.

The blast knocked area homes off their foundations, blew out windows all over town and created serious destruction at the elevator. Other than a few bumps, bruises and cuts, no injuries were reported from the explosion.

Both the fire hall and the elevator were later rebuilt after switching sides of the street. The city estimated that recovery costs resulting from the explosion totaled about $4.2 million.

Lake Wilson, located in Murray County, has a population of about 270. On June 16, 1992, Lake Wilson was struck by a devastating F5 tornado that destroyed half of the town.