Nevada Appeal at 150: Nov. 4, 1965: Explosion levels First Baptist Church | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada Appeal at 150: Nov. 4, 1965: Explosion levels First Baptist Church

Billowing smoke was visible from all parts of the city after the blaze began. In the foreground is a pile of concrete blocks (behind the fence) which formed part of the church building.
Appeal file photo |

Shortly before 4 o’clock yesterday, an explosion of undetermined cause blew Carson City’s First Baptist Church apart and brought hundreds of spectators into the downtown area.

The pastor, Rev. C.R. Gibson, had left his study in the church only moments before to go get a haircut. He had just got settled in the barber’s chair when the blast occurred. His wife later said she was just preparing to go to the church. There was no one in the building at the time and the only injury resulting was a cut hand suffered by one of the firemen digging into the wreckage.

Firemen today are sifting through the rubble in search of the cause of the blast. Noel Clark, member of the Nevada Public Service Commission, said he though a propane gas explosion was the cause, but this still has to be determined. There was no natural gas connection to the church, according to officials of the Southwest Gas Corporation office in Reno, although there are natural gas lines in the population area surrounding the church.

“I had all my books and many personal effects in the study, the Rev. Gibson said. “All went up in scraps. But I am thankful that I had gone for a haircut and that no one else had entered the building.”

August Glanzmann, 502 W. Spear St., who was in his yard at the time of the blast, said, “The whole thing went right up in the air and came down in bits and pieces.”

Businessman Pete Kelly said he was on Carson Street right after the blast, which he though was a sonic boom, when pieces of paper came floating down.

“Thinking they had been dropped from an airplane,” he said, “ I picked one up and discovered it was a church leaflet. Then I saw the pall of smoke rising.”

The plume of grey-black smoke billowed high in the air and was visible form all sections of the city and attracted many spectators. Firemen had difficulty in keeping people away from the scene.

All that was left of the church organ was the keyboard. The rest was in splinters.

This continues the Appeal’s review of news stories and headlines during its Sesquicentennial year.