Philadelphia, PA Gasoline Explosion In Grocery Store, Aug 1901




List of Victims May Be Much Larger Than This -- Between Forty and Fifty Badly Hurt -- Gasoline the Cause of the Disaster.

Philadelphia, Aug. 6 -- A gasoline tank in a small grocery store in Tenth street, above Locust street, exploded just before 10 o'clock last night, and five stores and residences were wrecked.
At least half a dozen persons were killed, and between 40 and 50 are known to be injured, some seriously. The list of dead may prove much larger.
The ruins of the buildings were in flames a few minutes after the explosion, and intense excitement prevailed.
The bodies of a colored man and a colored woman had been removed from the debris up to midnight. They have not been identified.
Twenty of the injured were taken in ambulances to the Jefferson hospital and as many more to the Presbyterian hospital.
The section in which the disaster occurred is occupied mainly by colored persons, and nearly all of the killed and injured are negroes.
There were six buildings in the row, numbered from 1,008 to 1,016 Locust street. With the explosion of 1008 the front walls of the buildings were blown outward into the street, while the floors and the roofs were blown upward and fell straight to the ground.
Almost every building in a radius of two blocks about the scene of the exposition had windows shattered and was otherwise damaged. Every building on the opposite side of Locust street was more or less wrecked, but none fell.
A terrible cry went up from the ruins the moment the explosion occurred. Women, children and men could be seen crawling from the debris, while the cries of others were heard in the wreckage. From all the surrounding buildings injured persons ran out, and many fell in the street unconscious.
Fire Breaks Out.
To add to the horror fire broke out in the debris the moment it settled to the ground, and in less than five minutes the great pile was burning fiercely from end to end.
A general alarm was turned in for fire apparatus and ambulances, and the work of rescue was begun by those in the neighborhood who were not injured. Here and there a person was dragged from the ruins before the fire could rach the victim, several lives being saved by this prompt work.
When the firemen reached the scene, the flames had gained great headway and were igniting the buildings across the street. The fire, however, was soon under control and with the exception of a small blaze here and there was extinguished in a few minutes.
The work of digging away the ruins was then begun in earnest. Near the edge of the debris seeral colored men were taken out and sent to the hospital.
While the firemen and policemen were digging into the debris and hauling away heavy timbers in several sections of the wreckage cries were heard coming from the cellar of Mountain's grocery store. Fifty men with rope and tackle pulled away the roofing and flooring which had fallen in a massed heap. From the bottom of the pile doubled up were taken a man and a woman. The man was able to speak, but the woman was apparently dead.
While the work of rescue was going on in the wrecked block hospital attendants and others made a search of all the damaged houses on the opposite side of the street, and almost a score of persons were taken to hospitals from these places.
Two hundred men are now at work clearing away the wreckage.

Ticonderoga Sentinel New York 1901-08-06

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