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CANTWELL, Alaska-Last night, just before 6 pm, an explosion rocked the Chevron Gas station/Convenience store in Cantwell near the Denali Park. The explosion occurred near the convenience store's check-out counter, touching off a fire that quickly engulfed the building according to fire fighters. The cause of the explosion has still not been determined and is under investigation.
The fire also reached a diesel tank and increased the flames, but firemen were able to bring that under control and extinguish it.
Further, larger, secondary explosions were prevented however, as fire fighters fought to keep the blaze from touching off the gas and propane tanks at the side of the building. The blaze continued for over four hours as high winds hampered the fire fighter’s efforts. Firemen cordoned off the area around the station to prevent any exposure to a possible fuel tank ignition. Power was also cut to Cantwell to prevent any instances of electrical fires that would have further hampered operations there.
Five people were injured as a result of the explosion and fire. One was burned significantly and another received significant injuries from the explosive debris. Another received moderate burns while two others suffered minor injuries from the blast.Two of the victims were transported to Fairbanks Memorial hospital and one was taken to Mat-Su Regional Medical Center.
Fire Departments from Healy, Trapper Creek, Palmer, and Nenana responded to the blaze while Crews from Anderson Fire and Rescue controlled the Parks Highway during the incident.
The community of Cantwell was named after Jim Cantwell, a railway worker for the Alaska Railroad. Alaskan Native Oley Nickie founded the community with two of his brothers. The community has approximately 222 members. It lies about 175 miles north of Anchorage along the eastern boundries of the Denali Park. Cantwell was the filming location of the movie, “Into the Wild.”