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#2 Trinity Health’s new campus progressing

Accident, fire halts work for a time in 2019

Despite a temporary interruption by a fire and other events earlier this year, construction on Trinity Health’s new healthcare campus and medical district in southwest Minot has made significant progress.

Exploding propane tanks at the construction site of Trinity Health’s medical campus in southwest Minot on an evening in mid-March shook houses and other buildings in the city, rattled windows and fireballs shot into the air.

That night of March 22, crews from the Minot Fire Department immediately went to the scene to evacuate residents and bystanders from the area. Minot Police Department blocked the intersection of 16th Street and 37th Avenue Southwest.

The explosions at the construction site came from propane tanks located at the work site.

The fire raged for several hours and was allowed to burn out instead of risking injury to firefighters entering the dangerous area.

No one was injured as a result of the explosions or fire, mainly because construction had been halted and the site closed the previous day after a worker fell while working on the steel structure of a building under construction.

Trinity released a statement on its website the following Monday saying the construction site was closed and appropriate authorities and experts were investigating the incident. The statement said the process would take time and until they had sufficient information and recommendations to consider, Trinity Health would not speculate on the impact the event may have on the project timeline. They said they would evaluate the impact of the fire and take any actions necessary to ensure successful completion of the healthcare campus and medical district.

Fire Department Inspector Dean Lennertz, in his analysis of the fire scene announced in April, concluded that shifting of the ground underneath the 24 1,000-gallon propane tanks at the location was sufficient enough to cause a leak, or a break, in one of the connections between the tanks. All of the tanks, which were spaced about three feet apart, were connected by copper lines.

“As the weather warmed up the ground became unstable,” said Lenertz. “As the tanks moved it snapped a line or separated a line, broke a valve in some way and released the propane. That’s what appears to have happened,” Lennertz said.

Trinity Health said on April 30 that construction on the new healthcare campus and medical district had resumed as of Friday, April 26.

“While a portion of the site that was directly impacted by the fire is still restricted, construction activities will involve other facets of the project,” the statement on Trinity’s website said. It also said the Minot fire marshal determined the fire resulted from propane tanks reportedly leaking and eventually igniting. Trinity officials expected extensive testing to be conducted on the steel structure in the coming weeks.

In a story published by the Minot Daily News in its November “Pulse” publication, Trinity Health officials reported significant progress has been made at the new Trinity Health campus, with roughly a third of the overall construction of the project complete.

“Although our momentum was temporarily interrupted by the fire and other events earlier this year, we are encouraged with the forward movement of construction and how the campus is taking shape. The developing structure is impressive and signals the promise of a state-of-the-art facility that the people of this region can be proud of,” said Randy Schwan, a Trinity Health vice president.

Despite events earlier in the year that delayed work around the project, officials are still targeting completion in 2021, Schwan said.

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