Natchitoches, LA Gas Pipeline Explosion, Mar 1965
GAS BLAST KILLS 17 IN LOUISIANA
9 Victims Children; 2 Or 3 Missing
NATCHITOCHES, La. (AP) - A natural gas pipeline exploded in a residential area near here early today, sending billowing flames hundreds of feet into the sky. Seventeen persons, including nine children, were killed.
Authorities said two or three other children were unaccounted for. At least nine persons were taken to a hospital, but their injuries were not believed to be serious.
A deputy sheriff said the dead and injured were residents of the neighborhood, just across Louisiana Highway 1 from the country club.
THE BLAST, occurring 150 yards behind a row of frame houses, created a crater 15 feet deep, 75 feet long and 30 feet wide. Flames from escaping gas soared upward 400 feet or more before Tennessee Gas Transmission Co. workmen cut off the flow of gas.
CHARLES CUNNINGHAM, publisher of the weekly Natchitoches Enterprise, lives in the vicinity of the explosion. He said the blast looked like a bolt of lightning.
"Then there was a rumble like thunder," he said. "I thought perhaps it was thunder or a sonic boom. Then I went to the window and saw the flames."
The explosion occurred about 6 a. m.
State police estimated damages from the blast and accompanying fire at more that $1 million.
FIVE HOUSES were leveled, with furnishings scattered over 15 to 20 acres. Six cars and three trucks, were turned into molten metal by the intense heat. A nearby sawmill was damaged.
Rescue workers, moving into the area after the flow of gas was stopped, found the body of MRS. WILLIAM E. AMMONS, about 25, in a ditch across the highway and about 60 feet from her house. Her baby daughter's body was lying in the road about 50 feet from the house.
Her husband and three other children escaped with minor burns.
Continued on page 2