Attleboro, MA Chemical Plant Explosion, Jan 1964


Attleboro, Mass. (AP) -- An explosion heard for miles leveled a chemical plant building Sunday night, inflicting death and injury on a Sunday shift.
Further blasts were feared as fire swept a warehouse.
Two persons were known dead and at least 10 injured.
'The dead were identified as WILLIAM CANIGLIA, 35, North Providence, R. I., and NORMAN ST. PIERRE, 29.
The blast at the THOMPSON Chemical Co. plant was heard in Boston, about 40 miles north of Attleboro.
A lesser explosion shook the same plant last Friday, injuring one worker. Fire officials said Friday's blast resulted when a safety cap blew off a vaporizer used in a chemical process.
About 40 persons were believed at work when Sunday's blast occurred around 7 p. m.
The building that blew up -- known to employes as V1 -- disintegrated from the force of the explosion. Then the fire skipped to another building 200 feet away where compounds were used to make vinyl resins. This burned for hours.
Evacuees from 100 or 250 homes were taken to McKenna Junior High School and Civil Defense units rushed from Boston to aid them.

Florence Morning News South Carolina 1964-01-13



Attleboro (AP) -- A Chemical plant blew up last night with a shattering roar -- like a bomb, witnesses said -- killing six and injuring scores.
The explosion was followed by a fire which raged out of control for hours destroying three out of six buildings which covered a 15-acre site in the Hebronville section of Attleboro.
Witnesses said there was a series of explosions followed by a gigantic blast heard for 50 miles.
Firemen from 30 communities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island battled the blaze all night. By mid-morning the fire had been contained in a warehouse and office building, but great clouds of acrid smoke rolled across the countryside.
Police blocked roads leading through the smoky area.
The blast damaged homes near the plant, smashing windows and knocking pictures from walls. All of the windows in an 800-pupil elementary school across the road from the plant were broken, with the sashes and frames ripped away.
About 100 families fled from their homes in the vicinity. Most of them found shelter with relatives. Broken windows and lack of power in freezing weather delayed their immediate return.
The blast hit the multi-million dollar Thompson Chemical Co. plant.
Victor J. Baxt, vice president and general manager, said he was unable to say what caused the explosion or to estimate the loss.
Unofficial extimates said the damage could exceed $3 million.
Fire Chief Merton Churchill, who later was taken to a hospital, said there was a 20 minute delay in battling the blaze. The first firemen at the scene were ordered away when a plant chemist warned of the danger of additional explosions.
Churchill said when the chemist announced that explosion danger had passed the fire was raging out of control in the three buildings which were destroyed.
Churchill said the big explosion was in a chemical building called "V-1" where poly vinyl chloride resin is produced.
The resin is used in the manufacture of various plastics, including phonograph records.
A second chemical building called "V-2" building was damaged.
The dead and the most serious injured were all plant employees.
The plant operates on a 24-hour basis, seven days a week.
The firemen said that when they first arrived the injured were coming out of the building with their hair and clothing burned off.
In addition to the six dead more than 20 persons were hospitalized, some being released after treatment.
The blast and fire halted service more than three hours on the New Haven railroad main line which runs along one edge of the chemical plant property.
About 40 to 50 persons, nearby residents were injured, some suffering from the concussion and others cuts by flying glass when their windows blew in.

Attleboro (AP) -- The casualty list from the explosions which wrecked the Thompson Chemical Co. plant last night:
WILLIAM CANIGLIA, 35, North Providence, R.I.
HENRY SHEPHERD, Pawtucket, R.I. (tentative identification).
Two men reported as missing were identified only as CLIFFORD REILLY and J. ARBOUR.
Injured and under treatment at Sturdy Memorial hospital, Attleboro:
LOUIS SILVA, 40, of Seekonk, on the danger list with burns over 75 per cent of his body.
ERNEST STEZESAK, 40, Seekonk, on the danger list, multiple fractures and body injuries.
NORMAN SHARRETT, 37, Pawtucket, R. I., fume poisoning.
CHARLES PARENT, 31, Fall River, facial cuts and smoke inhalation.
Fire Chief MERTON E. CHURCHILL, 51, of Attleboro, was admitted to the hospital at 5 a.m., suffering from chest pains which were not immediately diagnosed.
Deputy Fire Chief NORMAN J. JACKSON, 36, of Attleboro, overcome by fumes.
Fireman DAVID FOTHLER, 37, also affected by fumes.
Fireman FRANCIS D. SMITH, 46, hospitalized from exhaustion.
Treated and released from Sturdy hospital (all suffered smoke inhalation):
Admitted to Memorial hospital in Pawtucket, R.I.:
NORMAND ST. PIERRE, 29, Attleboro, on the danger list with multiple injuries.
CHESTER ALVERSON, 53, Seekonk, a head injury when a door fell on him at his home 50 yards from the blast.
HARRY CROCKER, 72, Pawtucket, suffered shock in his home two miles from the blast scene.
Treated in the Pawtucket hospital and released:
MRS. MARGARET ALVERSON, 51, wife of CHESTER, minor injuries.
DONALD GREAVES, 20, Glasgow Street, Seekonk.

Lowell Sun Massachusetts 1964-01-13


thompson fire,attleboro

hello,i would be interested in your documentary,as frances smith was my grandfather.hedied unexpectadly in 1967.two years before i showed up,gram is still alive and full of memories,she will be 92 next week.please let me know more thank you bob smith,kennebunk,maine

Thompson Chemical Explosion 1964

There are many of us who grew up in North Seekonk, MA who have very vivid memories of this sad event. We often discuss this subject on facebook as well as in our personal lives. For those of us who experienced the impact of this explosion, it will be forever embeded in our memories, and we have come to ask ourselves the age old question: "where were YOU and what were you doing the day Thompson Chemicals exploded". For us, it is a day marked in infamy, right up there with the moon landing and the day JFK was shot. We ask each other if we have noted an unusual amount of cancers in our aging parents or even among ourseleves, What is not mentioned was that after the explosion there was a "fallout" of ash, that clung to houses and buildings. No folllow up has ever been done as far as we are aware.

Your documentry is both timely as well as of the utmost interest to many of us. I look forward to hearing more about this fascinating project.


I am a documentary producer at the local tv station in Attleboro and we are gearing up for a documentary about the Thompson Fire. I would love to speak to you about the incident . I am very sorry for your loss. What I hope to achieve with this project is to shed some light on the event and the people it affected.

Hope to hear from you.
Roger Mulcahy

Six people were killed in

Six people were killed in this accident and my dad ws one of them. Normand Girouard