In 1977 I was a teenager in Fort Collins, Colorado. It was a relatively small town back then; probably around 40,000 people, not including the students at Colorado State University. I could bicycle across town to the new city library in a little over ten minutes if I pedaled like a demon and hit the traffic lights just right. I had a “bookstore tour” that I did on most Saturday mornings. Bicycles were freedom.
One find spring morning, bicycling into school, I saw a building explode.
It was a particularly clear and calm day, and I was headed down a hill which had a great view of downtown. I happened to look up at exactly the right moment. A couple miles away, quite visible in the morning air, I saw a puff of smoke and a fountain of debris. A few seconds later there was a sharp and very bass “KaBOOM!”. People heard it in the city of Loveland, ten or fifteen miles away. Overnight a commercial building had filled up with natural gas, and it detonated around 7 in the morning. Nobody was hurt, though it blew out windows for several blocks.
Also, the CSU chemistry department, whose supplies desk would happily sell chemicals to anyone without asking questions, was quietly asked by the Fort Collins Police Department not to sell nitrates to random people any more, including certain nerdy high school kids. What were they thinking? That we were impressionable and get ideas or something? /That/ horse had left the barn long ago.
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