Villa Rica, GA Devestating Gas Explosion, Dec 1957
AT LEAST 12 ARE KILLED IN GEORGIA GAS BLAST.
HALF BLOCK LEVELED BY EXPLOSION AND FIRE - RESIDENTS WARNED NOT TO USE APPLIANCES.
Villa Rica, Ga. (AP) - Grim-faced men resumed the search for additional bodies today in the blackened wreckage left by a terrific gas explosion and fire in this northwest Georgia town of 3,500.
Half a block was leveled by the blast yesterday. Twelve persons were known to have been killed and about 20 injured.
The town was without gas service, and people were warned not to turn on appliances.
The tragedy was the whole town's.
There was a boy who broke a tooth in school and went to the dentist's office and died; a nurse who kept on working after the bodies of her brother and father were brought in; the people who visited a dime store to buy Christmas ornaments and were carried out later on stretchers.
The explosion demolished a drugstore, dress shop, 10-cent store, jewelry and florist shop and a second-floor dentist's office. It was attributed by Asst. Police Chief H. G. Black to a faulty gas line in the basement of the drugstore.
OSCAR HIXON, superintendent of the municipally owned gas system, was working on the line at the time and was killed. Also killed were O. T. DYER and his son JOHNNY, who were working with HIXON.
RAY TYSON, 39, a clerk in the drugstore, said he was behind the soda fountain when the explosion came about 11 a.m. "I thought a bomb had hit the place," he said. "But I knew it was gas. We had been smelling gas for a day or two."
Hundreds of rescue workers from other communities rushed to the scene. Volunteers, police and firemen came from as far away as Atlanta, 37 miles east of Villa Rica.
At the little Villa Rica Hospital, Mrs. Lewis Harrison, chief surgical nurse, learned that her father and brother, O. T. DYER and JOHNNY DYER, had been killed.
She bowed her head and fingered her handkerchief for a moment. Friends suggested she go home.
"You all go on home," she said. "I've got work to do here."
BOBBY ROBERTS, 13, broke his tooth at school. Authorities called MISS CAROLYN DAVIS, 22, of nearby Bremen to take BOBBY to the dentist. They were with the dentist, DR. JACK BURNHAM, JR., when the blast occurred. All three were killed.
List of the Victims.
MRS. ANN POPE SMITH, 23.
MRS. MARGARET BERRY.
BOBBY ROBERTS, 13.
MISS CAROLYN DAVIS, 22.
OSCAR HIXON, 34.
O. T. DYER, 60.
JOHNNY DYER, 30.
ROB BROOM, 54.
DR. JACK BURNHAM, JR., dentist.
The Progress-Index Petersburg Virginia 1957-12-06