Explosive Story

I got a phone call from my brother in Livingston this morning. He told me that a friend of his told him that there had been an explosion in downtown Bozeman at a restaurant called Boodles.

I went to the radio and scanned the dial. Nothing. (I don’t think we have any locally owned stations.) I went to the web page for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Nothing. (It’s pay-based.) I turned on the TV for local channels – they were running The View, The Price is Right, and The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet.

Finally, I went to the Billings Gazette. I found the story there.

Blast levels Main Street businesses in Bozeman

By The Gazette Staff

An explosion on Main Street in Bozeman shook downtown and leveled at least one building at 8:30 a.m. today.

Broken glass littered the pavement for several blocks. The blast was near the Boodles Restaurant and the Rocking R Bar. Fire crews and [sic] are on the scene

Check the Gazette’s Web site for updates.

We still have news. It’s old fashioned, I know. A “newspaper.”

Update: A local Clear Channel radio station had some coverage, but has now gone back to Rush Limbaugh. The Chronicle has coverage at their website now. A local TV station did a helicopter flyover. It’s pretty devastating. The explosion was heard six miles away, and blew out windows of all businesses around. The governor has offered the National Guard to prevent looting. The city has distributed a flyer asking local residents to provide housing and support for people displaced by the blast. Local government is stressed to the max, but they are doing a great job. People attempting to get into the area are turned away, and threatened with arrest if the persist. Big news for a small town.

Update II: People below tell me I’m all wet about news coverage, that it was there and quite good from the time it happened on. My bad. That’s why I am an accountant, a lion tamer, and not a journalist.

15 thoughts on “Explosive Story

  1. I spent the morning downtown after the blast occurred at around 8:18 a.m. I live two blocks south from Boodles, one of the buildings destroyed, along with an art gallery and another building to the east. At the time of the blast I felt three consecutive “bumps” through the framework and flooring of my house. I thought it was an earthquake and I waited for rolling aftershocks. When nothing further occurred, I thought: “That’s the strangest earthquake tremor I have ever experienced.”

    A friend called me around 9:30 a.m. to say “Boodles is gone!” Another friend who owns a downtown business called to check on my well-being, since I live nearby and windows were broken on Main Street as far west as Willson Avenue, but on an oddly random basis. I charged the batteries for my professional digital camera and went downtown to see if I could get some pictures. The perimeter was sealed off from Babcock to the south and Mendenhall to the north, Tracy to the west and Church street to the east. I was told by a highway patrol officer that no press could enter the perimeter area.

    I wandered around outside the sealed perimeter and took what photos I could get. An eyewitness shoveling a sidewalk at Tracy and Main when the blast occurred said that the “roof” and other debris from the explosion lifted 40-feet into the air and flew north toward Mendenhall.

    I attended a press conference at city hall (which is directly north of the blast) at 11:00 a.m. Governor Schweitzer was there, offering any state resources that may be feasible, including the national guard. He gave phone numbers for different agencies that would serve as “clearing houses” for any requests for assistance, including the Department of Commerce for affected businesses to call regarding possible state information.

    The city officer giving the press conference said that the impacted area on Main Street would be closed for “several days.” At the time I was downtown, a gas fire was still burning, it was being hosed down via a crane-like apparatus. Smoke billowed into the sky and fire companies from different communities were on hand. The Billings Gazette photo of the scene seems to have come from the vicinity of 1st Security Bank across the street from Boodles. It is not fair to criticize local news media for not having more immediate information. There was a live gas leak and a fire ongoing, with no immediate end in sight.

    I was told that a woman died in the art gallery next to Boodles, and that others were being treated at Bozeman Deaconess hospital. I know many of the downtown business people and they were in shock. I tried to gain access to the scene via shops across the street from Boodles, but was turned back by police and fire crews who said that I could not enter the perimeter area, press credentials or otherwise. Nearby businesses were evacuated. The “authorities” were on high professional alert, very direct and very courteous. They were dealing with a very real danger and doing a very good job to keep people safe from further harm.

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  2. Thanks Bob. About criticizing local media, I found out about this at 10:00 AM, and there was no coverage on TV. I assume it was there on the radio, and I missed it, and also at the Chronicle web site. So you’re probably right that I was unfair.

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  3. I was at the corner of Wilson and Main when the explosion occurred. I reached work about 15 minutes later, and it was already on the radio news.

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  4. I live in Livingston and was taking my children to school at 8:15am when I heard about an explosion possibly at a “parking garage” from KMMS/KPRK radio. Jewels was right on it. I came into work at 9:00am here in Livingston and the word was spreading. I continued to listen to the station and checked the internet about 9:45am. I found information regarding the explosion with pictures on a few websites. At this time, I have found many sites regarding this unfortunate incident.

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  5. I was at school and we could hear it. some of my friends parents work down there so we got pictures of the mess, boodles is totaly gone.

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  6. Regarding your second update.

    Mark, I’m not convinced that you’re wrong about the TV coverage. I wasn’t home to watch it. Nor do I think this episode is truly indicative of passing judgment either way. As you said, this is “big news for a small town”.

    When CNN had this as a featured US story, their headline was “Explosion destroys businesses in town”. That’s some flattery right there, I can tell you …

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  7. With all due respect, there is a woman buried beneath the rubble. Let’s take it from there, OK? So this is no 9/11. Friends have lost a friend, OK?

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  8. With all due respect, there is a woman buried beneath the rubble.

    Meaning no disrespect, Bob, we don’t know that yet. And even if we did, it wouldn’t dismiss the gravity of knowing what is going on from informed sources.

    I’ve been trying to craft a post about what happened today (but couldn’t because of phone calls from friends and family which have been constant.) Simply put, I was there when it happened, and the overwhelming thought I have been mulling is of confusion. None of us who were downtown this morning understood what was happening. I am proud of my fellow Bozemanites who were on the street with me this morning that we behaved orderly in the midst of chaos. I am proud of the city for its response. None of this takes anything away from the tragedy of the situation. We can still discuss response, by media or other, without misstating the gravity of the situation.

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  9. I was notified by a friend of the family involved that the woman mentioned in my comment above had been officially reported killed in the blast. I received a phone call to that effect several hours before I posted my comment. I have not mentioned her name out of respect for family and friends. After many hours on the scene and at city hall yesterday I am not “misstating the gravity of the situation” by any stretch of the imagination. It is a sad time for everyone concerned.

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  10. Bob, I was simply responding to your assessment that *we* were misstating the gravity of the situation. If you wish to judge our interest or comments through your own very personal filter, at least acknowledge that that’s what you’re doing instead of chiding others for not understanding your grief.

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  11. Mark, I just received the following email and was asked to share it with those who read your blog (if that is OK with you). I have deleted the **** family name of the woman who was killed in the blast in downtown Bozeman, since that information apparently has not yet been made public:

    >>>Folding 1000 paper origami cranes is an old Japanese tradition to facilitate healing of any kind. You are invited to fold paper cranes as an offering to Bozeman community families and friends whose lives were changed, in so many ways, by the explosion in downtown Bozeman.

    The first 1000 cranes will be presented to the **** family. The remaining cranes will be presented to the Bozeman community and displayed for all. If you would like to participate in this community event, please make and mail your cranes to P.O. Box 1603, Bozeman, MT 59771.

    Links below for folding instructions. It takes a little practice, don’t give up!<<<

    http://www.monkey.org/~aidan/origami/crane/

    http://www.pacificfriend.ca/html/how_to_fold_a_paper_crane.html

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