Buffalo, NY Propane Gas Explosion, Dec 1983
6 DIE IN BUFFALO EXPLOSION.
Buffalo (AP) -- A propane gas explosion leveled at least seven buildings in an old residential area downtown Tuesday night, killing six people and injuring scores of others, officials said.
An attendant at Erie County morgue, who refused to give his name, said six bodies had been brought to the morgue, two of them firefighters. Earlier, Fire Commissioner FRED LANGDON said five firefighters had been killed.
Officials at three hospitals reported more than 50 injured people were brought in, with injuries including cuts, burns and fractures.
The blast occurred about 8:30 p.m. as firefighters were arriving at the scene following the report of a liquid propane gas leak at a home near North Division and Jefferson streets. The explosion shattered windows and sent debris flying into the street, covering fire trucks and blocking the area, which contained many old, wood-frame homes.
Rescue workers slogged through ankle-deep snow to carry the injured from the scene, and residents, as well as members of the crime-fighting group the Guardian Angels, helped push ambulances that were stuck in the snow in the 20-degree weather.
The fire sparked by the explosion quickly spread to an adjacent bakery and a warehouse.
Fire Lt. CHURCH MANUEL said there were "at least seven or eight buildings destroyed."
"We can't be sure," he said. "Possibly more. We can't see the total destruction yet."
A thick cloud of gray smoke rose from the scene and drifted across the eastern part of the city.
Rubble covered at least one fire truck.
"I think we have a couple of more vehicles in there too," said Mayor JAMES GRIFFIN, surveying the scene.
SARAH HAMPTON said she was in kitchen of her home across the street from the blast site washing dishes when the lights went off and there was "a big noise."
"I looked over and the house across the street was in flames," she said.
She said LIZZIE PRESTON, who lives with her, was under some rubble. "I tried to pull the stuff off of her, but I just couldn't pull it off. Then I went out and screamed, 'Get her out! Get her out!'"
At least 50 people were being treated at Sheehan Memorial Emergency Hospital, said RICHARD HUMMERT, public relations director.
The condition of the injured ranged from critical to fair.
Listing of Fatalities:
JESSIE ARNOLD, 69.
Firefighters Truck 5:
The Post-Standard Syracuse New York 1983-12-28