Providence, RI Asphyxiated By Leaking Gas, Sep 1895



Providence, R. I., Sept. 4. -- Five employes of the Providence Gas Company went to their death in the cellar of the Westfield Street gas holder about 1:30 o'clock this afternoon, asphyxiated by gas being the cause.
The names of the dead:
COTTON, 26 years, single.
RILEY, 45 years, married, with six children, Thornton Pike Street.
McMANUS, married, Borden Street.
BURNS, 19 years, East Providence.
McNAMEE, 36 years, single, Brook Street.
The accident was a peculiar one. For several days leaking gas has been detected in the holder, and today the company sent six men and a foreman to repair the leak, which proved to come from the defective valve connecting the four-inch main, which supplies the Westfield Street holder with gas from the main holder on Globe Street. The men had just returned from dinner at 1 o'clock, and going down the wooden stairs which led from the entrance of the holder to the cellar below, began to work on the broken valve.
They disconnected it and tied a cloth bag about the large main extending in from the street, when the bag gave way and an immense volume of gas rushed out.
In less time than it takes to tell it all were overcome, with the exception of one man, who managed to grope up the stairs, where the fresh air enabled him to recove sufficiently to reach a place of safety. Immediately after it became known that the men were there and unable to getout willing hands attempted to go to the rescue, but nothing could be done while the escaping gas rushed up the stairs. Foreman CHARLES ALLEN did all he could, but there was no cut-off in the street and he knew not which way to turn. The police were quickly on the spot and roped off Westfield Street, and Medical Examiner Palmer stood in the doorway to prevent anybody from going down the stairs. At the foot of the stairs lay one of the men who had almost reached the bottom stair when he was overcome and sank back, a look of anguish on his countenance.
Soon after 3 o'clock the gas company sent a gang of men to dig up the street to get at the main shut-off further along, it being understood that no other means of shutting off the gas could be attained, and even then it meant two hours' work. Foreman ALLEN took a hand in the excavation, but was overcome before the digging proceeded far. He was taken to the Rhode Island hospital in the ambulance, which arrived a short time before. His life is despaired of.

Omaha Daily Bee Nebraska 1895-09-05