Richmond, CA Giant Powder Works Explosion, Apr 1926
FOUR KILLED BY DYNAMITE BLAST IN PINOLE WORKS; WHOLE REGION IS ROCKED.
CARTRIDGE MACHINE EXPLODES ON GIANT COMPANY FLAT, MANGLING WORKERS; 1500 TONS BLOW UP.
HOUSES SHAKEN IN BIG AREA.
Richmond, April 26. -- Four men were killed and packer plant No. 4 of the Giant Powder works was destroyed by an explosion of 1500 pounds of dynamite and powder shortly before noon today.
The four men killed, composing the working staff of the unit destroyed, were:
ROBERT E. GERAHTY of Giant.
HARRY TRASK of Giant.
DOMINICK DECOURTEN of Richmond.
JOE ROBAK of San Pablo.
The blast was felt for 30 miles around Giant and houses in Martinez were shaken so badly that windows were shattered and door casings thrown out of line.
At Vallejo the detonation was felt so clearly that officials of the Mare Island navy yard instantly dispatched men about the yard to determine whether one of their own powder magazines had exploded. Residents of the city itself reported pictures were thrown from the walls by the concussion.
The blast occurred without warning about 11:30 o'clock. Packer plant No. 4 is a separate unit of the powder company's holdings situated fully a quarter mile from other buildings because of the possibility of just such an explosion.
Because of this arrangement, no one was injured except the four men directly employed in the packing building itself, who were killed.
The cause of the explosion is not known, and probably will not be known until inspection of the ruins can be made to determine in just what part of the plant it took place.
Assistant Superintendent J. E. Durand, who is in charge in the absence of Superintendent R. H. Stratton, said he would make no statement regarding the accident until he conferred with his chief.
The four men killed were employed in packing dynamite into wax paper tubes by machinery and in the packing of the tubes into boxes ready for shipment. It is thought the explosion may have been caused by sparks from shoes, hammers or parts of the machinery.
The dynamite, for which sawdust usually is used as an absorbent, is brought to the plant in bulk and there put through the machine, which operates almost automatically.
It is not determined whether the victims of the blast were married or had families, but a check is being taken. Two of the men were said by fellow employees to be married.
Damage to the plant itself also was kept at a minimum through the isolation plan of the buildings. No damage as done to the other buildings as far as can be determined. The cost of the unit and equipment destroyed has been placed at $15,000.
Oakland Tribune California 1926-04-26