A horrible catastrophe was reported from Cannon Ball, North Dakota, on this day in 1900. It was days earlier, however, that a steamboat carrying tanks of fuel crashed on the Missouri River. Members of the Sioux tribe on the Standing Rock reservation realized that the fuel would be a valuable commodity to help keep warm during the upcoming winter, and managed to save a tank from the wreck. This they believed to be kerosene, and they proceeded to sell the fuel to nearby families. One man purchased some of the fuel and took it home to his family; later that night, there was an awful explosion heard for miles. As it turned out, the fuel labeled "kerosene" was in fact gasoline, and the man, his wife, and three children were all killed. The explosion was so great that a neighboring family of three was also badly burned.
Dakota Datebook written by Jayme L. Job
The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican. Saturday (Evening ed.), Dec. 15, 1900: p.1.