Syracuse, NY Split Rock Explosion, Jul 1918

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Forty-nine men are known to be dead. Parts of sixteen more charred bodies are reported to have been found in the debris of the plant. The number of dead was said this afternoon to be at least sixty-five.
At least fifty men were missing this afternoon and it is feared that the death list may reach seventy-five or even one hundred.
Half a hundred injured are in various Syracuse hospitals. Some of these will die.
This with $1,000,000 property damage, is the toll of the explosions which wrecked half of the great munitions plant of the Semet-Solvay company at Split Rock at 9:30 o'clock last night.
District Attorney Walrath to-day started an investigation into the disaster, the greatest in the history of Syracuse.
Forty-eight mangled, or burned bodies are stretched side by side upon the white-tiled floors of the County Morgue. One man, GEORGE SCHNEIDER, is dead at the Crouse-Irving hospital.
All available employes of the company to-day were digging in the ruins. They found blackened bones and parts of bodies, heads, arms and legs. Hour by hour during the night and morning the death list grew. Hour by hour, ambulances and the morgue car brought in more bodies.
Many are missing. Relatives of men employed at the plant sought them at the morgue. They stormed the gates to get in, all through the night and through the morning after.
Wives, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters sought among the dead for their own. Women disheveled from a night of vigil, watched anxiously through the day.
The pitiful thing was that many of the bodies were so burned or mangled that they could not be identified. Some never will be identified. Their people will know only that they are missing.
After a night of uncertainty and agony for relatives and friends, a night of terror with scores of families fleeing from the vicinity of Split Rock daylight brought the full horror of the disaster.
As body after body was brought to the morgue in Montgomery street the crowd of watchers pressed forward trying to follow ambulances and dead wagons through the gates. Guards held them back. The gates were closed and locked.
Up to late in the afternoon there were about twenty-nine of the bodies at the morgue unidentified.
Among the dead were a father and son, FRED N. EDGETT of No. 338 Fitch street and HAROLD N. EDGETT, No. 437 Seymour street.
The explosion, which shook the entire city and villages nearby occurred at 9:30. A fire starting at 8:40 led to the explosion. The main blast, followed by minor blasts, could be heard for miles in every direction.
A statement given out by H. H. S. Handy, president of the company says that the fire started in T. N. T. plant No. 1 from an undetermined cause. At first the fire did not appear alarming but it spread to T.N.T. In the process of manufacture and several explosions followed.

A statement by Burton J. Hall indicates that the explosion was in his nitrofier in Plant No. 1. where 2,200 pounds of T.N.T. Were in the first stage of manufacture.
Men in Plant No. 1 heard a warning to "get out of here" at 8:40 o'clock.
They rushed from the building but later went back and manned several lines of hose to play on the fire.
It was while they were fighting the fire that the explosion occurred.
Flying debris struck many of them, killing or injuring.
In an instant scores of men were knocked down or torn to pieces by the explosion.
Some were blown through walls.
They were blinded temporarily or made unconscious.
After the main explosion flames rose to a great height and smoke was carried for twenty miles.
Some hurried to telephone to the city for doctors and ambulances. Patrolmen rushed to the rescue but many of them had been killed.

The Known Injured
At Onondaga Hospital
LLOYD GIFFORD, No. 301 Bradley street; cuts and bruises; serious.
CHESTER N. BURLEY, Split Rock; hands burned and back lacerated; condition dangerous.
"RED" WILLIAMS, No. 1113 South Geddes street; cuts and lacerations on scalp; critical.

At St. Josephs
FRANK RIVERA, No. 534 Cedar street; head injury, not serious; went home.
GEORGE WILSON (colored), No. 518 East Washington street; shock.
JOSEPH DECOWSKI, No. 213 Sackett street; back and head hurt.
WILLIAM PRICE (colored), No. 625 East Washington street; head injury.
CHARLES W. WOOD, Skaneateles; hurt internally; may die.
JOHN KING, Marcellus; chest and leg hurt.
T. ARTHUR McCLARITY, No. 1001 Cumberland avenue; leg fractured.

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