New York City, NY Compressor Explosion, July 1978


New York (UPI) -- Police blamed a faulty refrigerator
compressor as the likely cause of the explosion of a frozen custard truck that sprayed a crowded lower Manhattan street with fragments of glass and metal at lunchtime yesterday, but they did not rule out the possibility of a bomb.
Hospitals reported 162 people hurt in the explosion,
16 of them critically.
The Mister Softee truck blew up in a ball of flames shortly before 2 p.m., shattering windows as high up as nine stories and spraying shards of glass and bits of metal over the street.
The Mister Softee truck itself was left a melted, twisted wreck.
At first police said the explosion was "definitely" caused by a bomb, but later said only that it could have been the cause, noting that a faulty compressor had been found in the back of the truck. Police said it would take about two days to determine the cause of the explosion.
"I've never seen anything like it since Vietnam," said former Army Sgt. Jim Canino, 24, a systems analyst caught in the terror only a few blocks from City Hall.
The driver of the frozen custard truck, LEE BALTER, 23, underwent surgery at Beekman to remove shattered metal bits, but officials said his injuries were not serious.

Syracuse Herald Journal New York 1978-07-01