East Greenwich, RI Greenwich Academy Dormitory Explosion, Nov 1907


Hurled from Their Beds Into Cellar of an Academy Dormitory.


Panic Results and Many Fatalities are Narrowly Averted at East Greenwich, Rhode Island

East Greenwich, R. I., Nov 13. – Two girl students are dying and a third was painfully injured and many narrow escapes from death in a boiler explosion and fire in the Greenwich Academy’s new Eastman dormitory, early today.

The terrific blast tore out the entire end of the building in which the girls were sleeping. Many of the girls were thrown from their beds by the shock.

Flames burst so quickly from the debris that several were unable to escape down the blazing stairways and were forced to leap from second-story windows. All were in their nightclothes, and a number fell unconscious from terror and exposure to the chilling wind.

The injured: Miss Florence Bissell, 16, East Hartford, Conn., cut, bruised and internally injured, dying; Miss Hester Gould, 16, Hartford, Conn., internally injured, dying; Miss May Kellogg, 15, Holyoke, Mass., burned, cut and bruised, out of danger.
The cause of the explosion has not yet been determined. Miss Kellogg, occupied a room on the first floor, directly over the boiler and Misses Bissell and Gould the corresponding apartment on the second floor.

The blast tore out both floors. Miss Kellogg’s bed plunged into the cellar and landed upright, so close to the furnace that the young woman was scorched by the heat.

The Misses Bissell and Gould were sitting at a table in their room when the floor yawned beneath them and they went down in a smother of splintered beams, brick and mortar. They were so wedged in the wreckage that it took the rescuers more than an hour to release them.

The fire was raging furiously in the meantime and streams of water had to be played constantly on the rescuers and victims alike to save them from death in the flames.
It was believed among the refugees on the campus that the unfortunates were being roasted to death and several of the girls were so determined to join in the work of rescue that the instructress and attendants were compelled to use force to compel them from rushing into the blazing wreck.

The teachers were powerless to check the panic which raged, not alone in the Eastman, but in the other dormitories immediately after the explosion. There was danger for a time, indeed, but the prompt work of the firemen, together with the villagers, who were all aroused by the crash, finally confined the flames to the ruined structure.

Trenton Evening Times, Trenton, NJ 13 Nov 1907