A friend on Facebook was growing up in Centralville when a middle-of-the-night explosion demolished a cafe at First and Bridge Streets (I'm guessing Dunks was built in its place). I'm in a productive mood today and made it to the library and printed the article out. Occurring before I was born but not before I'm sure many of my readers' time, like the fire articles, any additional information would be great.
Violent Downtown Blast Levels Cafe; Rocks City
The Evening Edition of The Sun on Sept 27, 1975's front page was almost entirely taken up by, and the back page was entirely devoted to, an article about an explosion that occurred in Centralville at 3:20 in the AM. During a severe storm that night, an explosion, the cause of which had yet to be determined, completely demolished Jake's Cafe. Trucks nearby were flipped over, sidewalks buckled, ceilings collapsed, light posts were bent. Damage was done to 68 businesses, and 23 people were injured (amazingly nobody seriously), one woman was admitted for cuts and later released. Twenty cruisers got flat tires on the debris and multiple fire trucks. Some of the damage was to obvious buildings like Russo Music across the street, but broken windows or other damage was seen in places as unlikely as Woolworth's, on Merrimack Street, facing away from Centralville. The "heaviest damage" area map The Sun printed, aside from being a little out of date and showing the downtown configuration before Arcand Drive had been built, draws a box around Bridge and First from 10th Street in the north, to French Street in the south, to Coburn Street in the west, and the Hunts Falls Bridge on the east.
As the other 70s disaster articles I posted also said, purposeful destruction was a real possibility. The apartments above the cafe were somewhat recently vacant (thankfully as whoever had been in them would have been vaporized - a woman was interviewed who had moved shortly before to elsewhere in the neighborhood), and the cafe had been shut down for three weeks following a fire in which gasoline drums were found in the cellar. A gas pipe was found uncapped, and Fire Chief Beauregard said that that would allow gas to just flow into the building, ignitable by anything as simple as a light switch, a pilot light, or a refrigeration unit. Another official at the scene pointed out the missing plug needed to be screwed off, as the threading had not been damaged by the explosion. Fortunately, had this explosion happened during the day with people on the street and cars on the sidewalks, it is likely that fatalities would have occurred.