Explosion Rocks South Dakota High School

Sat. November 18, 2000 12:00 AM by Brian Decker

Plankinton, SD - A propane explosion heavily damaged a high school in Plankinton, South Dakota, a town about 90 miles west of Sioux Falls, Friday evening.

At least two people were injured in the blast that trapped another, authorities said.

Authorities were in contact with a man inside the devastated building, and a Sioux Falls rescue crew was en route to extricate him, state Fire Marshal Dan Carlson said. The victims' names were not immediately available.

School officials smelled a gas leak at about 5:30 p.m. and evacuated students who were in the gym for an after-school recreation period, Carlson said.

Officials were apparently investigating the leak at the time of the explosion, less than two hours later, according to a Sioux Falls radio station.

Authorities said one person was flown to a hospital in Sioux Falls and another was flown to Mitchell for treatment.

They believe the explosion happened in the boiler room in an old part of the building.

The school appeared to be heavily damaged and was engulfed in flames, said Rhonda Lautt, who lives a block away. Lautt said she felt her house shake from the explosion. ``I was out in my kitchen, and I can see the schoolhouse ... and it's still burning,'' she said.

The glow from the blaze was visible up to 5 miles outside town, according to witnesses.