Wellsburg, WV Gas Explosion, Feb 1885

Five Persons Killed And Several Others Seriously Injured.

Steubenville, Ohio, Feb. 21.-A terrific natural gas explosion occurred at Wellsburg, West Va., seven miles down the river, this morning at 1:30 o’clock. The explosion was caused by gas leaking in the cellar of a two-story brick building occupied by R. Helsley & Brother, cigar makers. This building and the one adjoining, occupied by Luke Weller, saloon keeper, which was also of brick, were blown to atoms. The debris took fire. The intense cold gave the flames full sway, and they spread rapidly to the adjoining buildings. The shock of the explosion was so terrific that the glass was shattered and the plaster shaken from the ceilings of nearly every residence in the town. The inhabitants were terror-stricken, and ran in every direction. A great many buildings situated at quite a distance from the scene of the explosion were found to have been damaged by the shock. The whole family of Mr. Helsley, consisting of himself, his wife, mother, and two children, were instantly killed. All the bodies were easily recovered except that of the youngest child, aged 18 months, which as just been recovered, burned to a crisp, a month the ruins. John Walters, aged 17, is missing, and is supposed to be buried in the ruins. Mr. Walters, his wife, and two children are badly injured, and some of them will not recover. Several others are reported fatally injured. Houses several squares away were completely shattered by the explosion. The loss is at present unknown.

The New York Times, New York, NY 22 Feb 1885