On November 15th, 1972 at about 6:10 p.m., Alphonas Karhoff, 47, of Pandora, Ohio, was transferring propane gas from his truck to a small propane tank at the Northern Propane Gas Company at Clarksfield, Ohio when all of a sudden the small office building nearly blew up!
Karhoff had time to run away from his truck when it blew up! A neighbor nearby called the Wakeman Fire Department as the small propane tanks nearby kept exploding.
I had run out on my front porch on East Main Street in New London to see where the fire department was going when evidently one of the tanks blew up and I could see it in the sky from my porch. A total of nine fire departments and over one hundred firemen were soon on the scene but they couldn't do much except spray water on the larger propane tanks to keep them cool so they didn't explode.
The fire had to burn out itself and this took about two hours. Then fireman considered things under control. When the propane truck Mr. Karhoff was driving blew up, part of it ended up in an empty house trailer owned by Mrs. Ada Mann. The nearby home of Mr. and Mrs. Conrad Lucal and their two children was burned to the foundation but the Lucals escaped safely.
According to New London Fire Chief Al Walters, the first explosion came as Mr. Karhoff was unloading his truck and the cause was thought to be that escaping gas was set off by a heater in the company office which was destroyed when it blew up.
Windows were broken in nearby homes from the force of the explosions. Firemen from as far away as Milan, Wellington and Norwalk were summoned to help fight the fire. New London's tanker truck made several trips from New London with water while the Wakeman Department laid a hose to the Vermilion River to obtain water.
Route 60 had been closed at the nearby underpass and firemen had to remove barricades to get to the fire. Mr. Karhoff suffered several burns and was taken to Fisher-Titus Hospital in Norwalk and was kept there overnight. No one else was injured in what was a hot and dangerous night in Clarksfield.
V.K. Neel from an Elyria Chronicle article.