Onset, MA Cape Cod Gas Explosion, July 1946

NINE KILLED, 61 HURT IN CAPE COD EXPLOSION.

LEAKING GAS IS CAUSE OF BLAST IN BUZZARDS BAY TOWN.

Wareham, Mass. (UP) -- Leaking gas touched off by a spark was blamed today for an explosion that rocked the Cape Cod resort community of Onset, demolishing four buildings and killing nine persons.
Sixty-one other persons, many of them tourists who had come to the Buzzards Bay summer resort for a vacation, were injured in the blast. Thirty-one required hospitalization.
The dead included five men and four women. Seven of the victims were killed outright. Two others died later of injuries.
Dead were:
GAETANO RIZZUTO, 41, Belmont, Mass., who died at a Middleboro Hospital last night.
CATHERINE RIZZUTO, 38, his wife.
CECIL BARRETT, GUY RESUTTO, GEORGE GIBBS, MRS. GEORGE HEALD and JOHANNA ROSE, all of Onset.
WILLIAM ENGLISH, Fall River, Mass., and an unidentified woman.
The blast rocked buildings within a quarter mile area. Some of the victims were hurled into the streets by the force of the explosion but the majority were killed by collapsing buildings.
Four buildings were demolished and two others were damaged so badly they had to be razed.
The explosion occurred in front of Christy's Spa, an ice cream parlor and a favorite rendezvous of the many summer tourists visiting the Buzzards Bay area. Onset is located at the mouth of the Cape Cod canal and several resort hotels are within a short distance of the blast scene.
Officials said the leak in the gas line started when CECIL BARRETT, one of the victims, drove a pick through the pipe. Gas company workers and firemen were summoned immediately and the entire downtown area was evacuated and roped off.
Shortly afterward, when the danger was believed over, the ropes were taken down and curious shoppers and tourists poured into the area to see what had happened. Minutes later the blast roared out and the walls of buildings crumpled.
Many of the injured were mangled badly. One woman lost her right leg in the blast and another woman had an arm blown off.
"There was a terrible blast and the buildings were blown to bits," a housewife shopping in the district reported.
JOHN E. BASSETT, Dorchester, Mass., was walking along the street when the explosion occurred.
"We saw people walking along, covered with blood," he said. "Many of them were too dazed to realize how severely they were injured. One girl's clothing was blown off and when I saw her she had huge gashes in her legs and arms."
"Another woman was sitting on the sidewalk and her leg had been sliced open as if by a surgeon's knife. I helped her to a first aid station and on the way I saw 15 or 20 persons who had been slashed by flying glass. It was a gruesome sight."
Scores of persons in the immediate area were knocked down by the concussion. Automobiles were overturned and their windows blown out.
First aid stations were set up hastily and ambulances were rushed from nearby communities. The injured were taken to hospitals in Wareham, Middlesboro and New Bedford. Blood plasma was sent from Boston.
All but officials and rescue workers were evacuated from the area immediately.
MRS. FLORENCE OTTKE, a correspondent for the New Bedford Standard Times, one of the first persons to reach the scene, said the damage appeared even worse than that caused by the hurricane which hit Cape Cod in 1938.

Chester Times Pennsylvania 1946-07-19