Edgehill, PA Restaurant Gas Explosion, Aug 1964



Glenside, Pa., (UPI) -- An explosion wrecked a luncheonette in a small community near here today and killed a number of persons having breakfast.
At least three persons were killed and others trapped in the blast in Trunk's Luncheonette in nearby Edgehill. At least 10 were injured.
It was not known how many were trapped in the debris but a Roman Catholic priest was lowered into the cellar of the luncheonette to administer last rites.
Glenside Patrolman Robert Tarlo said one dead man that he took to Abington Memorial Hospital had his head decapitated by the blast.
Helweg's Funeral Home here said they received two fatalities from the blast which occurred about 7:30 a.m. while a number of person were having coffee or breakfast in the luncheonette. The director of the funeral home said he had been informed that there was a possibility of two other persons being buried in the debris.
Rescue workers attempting to get into the debris in the search for more victims were driven back when flames erupted on the sidewalk in front of the wrecked luncheonette about 2 1/2 hours after the blast.
A hole was dug in the sidewalk and a utility company employe was lowered into a hole to shut off a ruptured gas main.
Firemen said the counter of the luncheonette was down in the cellar of the wrecked building. They said people sitting at the counter may have gone down with it.
One of the dead was identified at the hospital as DUKE R. GEORGE, JR., of nearby North Hills, Pa.
Tarlo said several persons in the luncheonette were blown out of the building by the force of the explosion, which authorities said may have been caused by gas.
The luncheonette was located on the ground floor of a two-story twin building with living quarters on the second floor.
The upstairs apartment occupied by members of the TRUNK family collapsed into the wrecked luncheonette and other adjoining businesses were damaged.
Several members of the TRUNK family were among the injured taken to the Abington Hospital. They were identified as ANNE TRUNK, 63, LEONARD, 32, SAMUEL, 66, and CARL, 34.
Windows of buildings 100 yards away from the scene, were blown out by the blast.
A construction firm was located across from the scene and its heavy equipment was rushed into action to help clear away the debris.
More than 100 firemen rushed to the scene of the blast in the small town of Edgehill and began digging into the debris to see if anybody had been trapped.
A small fire followed the explosion but was quickly extinguished. A huge crane truck was rushed into action to begin clearing the debris.
The blast wrecked one-half of a two-story twin building. The luncheonette was on the first floor and an apartment on the second.
A two-block area surrounding the wrecked building was evacuated and those at the scene were warned not to smoke because of a heavy odor of gas.
One onlooker said that when he arrived at the scene he found a man wandering around the middle of the street bloody and dazed.
Firemen from communities in a five-mile radius were dispatched to the scene.
The community of Edgehill is located in Montgomery County, adjoining Glenside and about three miles from Philadelphia.
The explosion was in the center of the town, which has a population of about 300.

Simpson's Leader-Times Kittanning Pennsylvania 1964-08-15