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School explosion stuns rural SD community

BY SUSAN KIM | Plankinton, SD | November 18, 2000

A propane explosion destroyed the combination grade school and high school Friday night in the quiet rural town of

Plankinton, population 600.

A school janitor and administrator were killed in the blast, and a fire fighter was in serious condition Saturday evening. At a

town meeting on Saturday, Plankinton residents gathered to support the families who lost loved ones and determine a plan

for schooling.

The school is a total loss, according to the Mitchell County Police Department, which handles emergency dispatch for a

five-county area in southeastern South Dakota, some 90 miles west of Sioux Falls.

The explosion, which authorities believe started in a boiler room in the older part of the facility, was so intense that the glow

could be seen for miles. The building was still smoldering Saturday evening, according to Plankinton Fire Chief Dwight


Some 300 students attend the school but none were injured. "We will have to rebuild," said Schamber. "We're a community of

only 600 people so we're going to come together to provide temporary school space. The churches and even the fire station

will host some classes," he said.

When fire fighters emptied the water tank that feeds Plankinton, the town was out of water Friday night but water service

has since been restored.

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