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Remembering the explosion that shook Butte 123 years ago - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

Remembering the explosion that shook Butte 123 years ago

Posted: Jan 10, 2018 4:12 PM Updated:

BUTTE - A massive explosion 123 years ago in Butte shook the Mining City.

“It blasted out city windows, it shook the city, you could feel it miles away, hear it miles away," Butte historian Lindsay Mulcahy said. "They saw it in Belgrade and they heard it in Willow Creek, it was so large."

It was January 15, 1895 when Butte firefighters were called to a fire at the Kenyon-Connell Warehouse on East Iron Street.

They didn’t know the warehouse was packed with tons and tons of dynamite.

“It was the first paid fire department in the greatest city in the Northwest and they came to that fire to do what firemen do and sadly enough they lost their lives,” Chris Fisk of the Butte History Club said.

The fire set off three large explosions just as firefighters arrived on scene. It leveled buildings in the block and instantly killed 13 firefighters.

“In an incredibly sad tragedy, we lost all but three and on top of that, another 40 plus citizens who had rushed in after the first blast to do what Butte people do and lost their lives,” Fisk said.

The location of the Kenyon-Connell Warehouse has been an empty lot for more than 120 years after the disaster.

A utility pole sort of represents the unofficial marker for ground zero.

A few years ago somebody wrote ‘no memory’ on the pole but the Butte History Club hopes the disaster will never be forgotten.

“I think it’s important for Butte to remember this is the second greatest disaster that Butte has had in its history compared to the Granite Mountain Speculator Mine fire and yet a majority of them in this town don't seem to even know about this one,” Mulcahy said.

The club will remind people by inviting them to a memorial service on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the fire station on Mercury Street.

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