Mukilteo, WA Powder Plant Explosion, Sept 1930

Mukilteo Wash before explosion.jpg Mukilteo Wash after explosion 2.jpg Mukilteo Wash after explosion.jpg



Everett, Sept. 18 -- (AP) -- Two women were in a serious condition today, nearly 40 other persons were nursing bruises and cuts and the country side near Mukilteo, four miles south of here, was torn and battered like a battlefield, from an explosion late yesterday of 5,000 pounds of dynamite at the plant of the Puget Sound and Alaska Powder Company.
Rain last night eliminated the danger of the main magazine of 65 tons of blasting powder exploding. The rain held a fire caused by the blast from reaching the enormous amount of dynamite which would likely have done great damage to this city had it exploded.
All the company's buildings, including the office structure, gelatin house, packing house, boiler house and nitro house, were destroyed. The loss was estimated at $500,000. The explosion followed a fire which originated in the nitro mixing vat.
MRS. HAROLD BOUSBEY, 23, was the most seriously injured and may die. Her jugular vein was slashed by window glass when the blast caved in her home a short distance from the powder works.
MISS BERNICE LAABS, 16, was also in a serious condition. She lost the sight of her left eye and may lose the right.
Others treated at hospitals included:
MRS. LOUIS LAABS, Bernice's mother, 33, severe face cuts and major bruises.
MRS. MELVA LEAKEY, 22, bad shock.
CLEO COLF, 11, cuts on face and arms.
EARL GREENWOOD, plant workman, cut on nose.
GREENWOOD, was the only person in the plant when it exploded and he escaped with only a few cuts and had his clothing blown off.
All the persons injured lived between Mukilteo and the plant from two blocks to a mile.
Pandemonium followed the first thundering detonation. As residences crumpled in and the whole nearby country shook as if from an earthquake, a second blast occurred and the people, touched with panic, rushed wildly for safety not knowing which way to turn.
Roads were blocked, telephone communications disrupted, and nearby towns and communities were warned that fire sweeping through the debris at the powder works might at any moment reach a magazine where the 65 tons of powder was stored. Rain, however, halted the flames and the region was safe today from any additional blasts.
Workmen were occupied hours after the explosion, sweeping and shoveling glass in downtown Everett buildings, four miles away. Among the buildings where windows were shattered were Puget Sound Power and Light Company, Everett Buick Company, United Groceries, Kano & Harcus, Thomas G. Nortland's, Kinney Brothers and Shipprell, Egge's Cafe, J. C. Penney Company, Sears-Roebuck, R. M. Westover, Hooten Furniture Exchange, Slingerland Furniture Company, Resquist Piano Company, Detwerswarm, Dame's Lunch, Hazel's Cafe, Rumbaughs, Fisher's and Central Cigar Store.
A wooden bridge about 100 yards from the plant was the only structure in the vicinity that was not destroyed. It was thickly carpeted with autumn leaves and pine needles and it was believed the heavy mattressing absorbed the shock and saved its timbers.
When word of the expected third blast reached Everett last night, all theaters were cleared of patrons in the fear that if the greater explosion occurred it would cause a holocaust.
Tragic, interesting and curious were the effects of the explosions. Some workmen in the vicinity said they had not felt the concussion and did not realize what a terrific blast it was until they saw houses within a few hundred yards of them crumpling and observed great pieces of wreckage hurtling overhead.
No nearer the plant that these unscathed workmen were Mrs. L. Masalic and her two children. Yet the mother and her little ones were picked up bodily by the unseen hands of the disturbance and set down fifty feet away in safety as their house was rent and splintered to demolition.
The town of Snohomish, ten miles away, was severely shaken and in Seattle's north end hundreds of persons whose windows and dishes shook and rattled as if they would break, thought there had been an earthquake, but in the village of Lake Stevens, much closer to the powder plant, the blast was not even heard.
In Mukilteo daybreak revealed that scarcely a residence or other building in the town had escaped damage. Virtually every pane of glass was gone from houses and store fronts. Plaster had fallen and furniture was tumbled in almost every Mukilteo structure.
Train service was temporarily halted and automobile traffic demoralized. Several motorists on the road between Mukilteo and Everett scarcely noticed the shock and said they thought there was merely some stump blasting going on nearby.
Others were all but blown off the road.
The Everett-Mukilteo motor stage was crossing a high bridge and was so violently rocked that the driver turned around and drove his passengers back into Mukilteo.
With telephone service into Mukilteo completely disrupted today, communication with the stricken area was maintained by use of a variation of the old pony express. Automobiles, motorcycles and bicycles carried messengers and other workers in and out of the town with information of what was going on.
The Red Cross was on the scene early today, providing food, clothing and medical attention to scores of men, women and children near the scene of the explosion. Several nurses accompanied supply trucks sent by the Everett chapter of the Red Cross.
MRS. LUCY OLHOFF, reported to have died from shock during the explosion, was said by her family today to have passed away an hour before the blast, after a long illness.

Centralia Daily Chronicle Washington 1930-09-18