Truck driver George Rutherford had arrived in town the night before and arranged to deliver the load the next morning. He parked the truck next to the Garretsen Building Supply Company near the corner of Oak and Pine Streets and checked into the Umpqua Hotel for the night.
Unfortunately during the night the Garretsen building caught fire – and detonated the truck.
The explosion blew a hole in the ground 50 feet wide and 20 feet deep, the resulting mushroom cloud was mistaken for a nuclear explosion by some onlookers. The explosion also sparked a massive fire.
Ultimately fourteen people were killed, 125 injured, and over 100 building were destroyed or damaged. Windows nine miles from the blast were shattered.
More on the Roseburg Blast:
- The Roseburg Blast – the first installment of the Kick Ass Oregon History podcast
- ROSEBURG BLAST: A Catastrophe and Its Heroes – a video produced by Southern Oregon Public Television
- The blast that ripped apart Roseburg, Oregon, and the psyche of a man who was held responsible by Brent Walth in The Oregonian