BY STEVE KEMME
The Cincinnati Enquirer
BATAVIA -- Twenty years ago, a propane explosion at Auxier Gas Inc. jolted the western part of this town, killing the firm's owner and injuring four people.
At 3:30 p.m. May 22, 1978, a fire started after the rupture of a hose being used to transfer propane from a delivery tanker to one of Auxier's tankers.
Minutes later, propane exploded, shooting flames more than 100 feet into the air and shattering the windows of nearby businesses.
The explosion killed William D. "Bud" Auxier, owner of the bottle gas company, injured four people and damaged several houses. With burns over 90 percent of his body, Mr. Auxier, 64, was transported to a Cincinnati hospital, where he died.
Bob Nickloes, supervisor of the Batavia branch of the U.S. Postal Service, vividly remembers that explosion.
He recalled the 1978 blast as "a loud bang, a loud noise. This one was just a vibration."
Mr. Nickloes, 57, who lives in Batavia, was working at the Batavia post office when the 1978 explosion occurred.
"That was a lot worse," he said.
In the 1978 explosion, firefighters frantically hosed down a 32,000-gallon propane storage tank next to the two trucks.
If that large tank had exploded, half of Batavia would have been destroyed, authorities said.
After that explosion, some residents of nearby Meadowbrook Lane said they had been worried about a bottle gas company being located so close to their homes. Walt Schaefer contributed to this report.