Belle, WV Du Pont Plant Explosion, May 1938




Investigators were at work Friday morning to determine the cause of an explosion which killed two men outright, fatally injured a third and critically injured two others late Thursday afternoon in the chemical liquefication unit at the Belle plant of the E. I.du Pont de Nemours company.
The blast which occurred at 4:15 p.m. ripped a hole 15 feet square in the metal wall of the plant and brought instant death to BURTON A. HALL, 31, of Charleston, an operator's helper; and DENNIS S. CARTE, 34, of Diamond, an operator's helper.
LEON S. ALDEN, 45, of Belle, assistant shift compressor foreman, died early Friday morning at the Charleston General hospital after physicians had struggled to save his life with a blood transfusion.
The injured, their condition still critical at the Charleston General hospital, are:
W. C. KITCHEN, 40, 607 Hunt Avenue, Charleston, a laborer, who received bruises about the arms and body and a broken left arm.
JOHN M. BOWES, 28, 1713 Quarrier Street, a mechanic's helper, who was badly burned about the face, body and legs.
MR. BOWES responded to a blood transfusion administered Thursday night and regained consciousness at 4 a.m. MR. KITCHEN, the less seriously injured, rested under the influence of a sedative. Hospital attendants said they are in no immediate danger.
Coroner James E. Roberts, who in a brief investigation Thursday said the three men were killed accidentally, began a full investigation in the morning with Dr. R. J. Brown, the company physician, and C. H. Doherty, Jr., plant manager.
Mr. Doherty issued the following statement of the explosion, the most serious accident in the history of the plant:
"An explosion of unknown cause occurred at about 4:15 p.m. in the liquefaction area. So far as we have been able to determine, there were no unusual conditions noted prior to the explosion. A satisfactory explanation has not yet been developed and may not be developed for several days."
The explosion, which failed to harm others of the approximately 1,700 men employed at the plant, completely wrecked the liquefaction unit. Officials delayed an estimate of the damage.
The bodies of MR. CARTE and MR. ALDEN, were taken to the Bartlett and Wynns mortuary at Belle. MR. HALL'S body was taken to the Barlow Funeral home. MR. CARTE is survived by his widow, Mrs. Allie Carte; four sons, Hubert, Charles, Harold Lee and Dennis Gerald Carte; a daughter, Sibyl Carte; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. M. Carte of Blue Creek, and five brothers and three sisters. MR. ALDEN was a member of the American Legion, Belle Post No. 95, and also served as assistant scoutmaster of troop 12 at Belle and was an elder in the Belle Presbyterian church.
Surviving, in addition to his widow, is a son, Jack Alden; two daughters, Priscilla and Doris Lee Alden, all at home.
Funeral services for MR. ALDEN will be held at the Bartlett and Wynns funeral home at Belle at 7:30 p.m. Friday, in charge of Rev. Mr. Garrison, pastor of the Belle Presbyterian church. The body will be shipped to Iowa late Friday night for final rites and burial will follow there.
Active pallbearers will be Grover Chadwell, Robert Durbin, Jack Wilson, W. E. Williams, J. J. Douglas, Clayton Williams and S. B. Fawcett.
Funeral services for MR. HALL will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Kanawha Fork Free Will Baptist Church, of which he was a member, with Rev. W. C. Comer officiating. Burial will be in Comer cemetery. Surviving are the widow, two children, Myrna Joyce and Harold Burton Hall; a brother Reed Hall of Charleson, and three sisters, Miss Irma Hall, Mrs. H. M. Means and Mrs. Charles Myers, all of Charleston.

Charleston Daily Mail West Virginia 1938-05-27