Milwaukee, WI Boiler Explosion, Oct 1956


Milwaukee, Oct. 8 (AP) -- An explosion ripped through the administration building at the Ampoc Metals Inc. foundry on the city's Southwest Side today killing two and injuring 21 persons.
All 30 people who were in the building at the time of the blast have been accounted for.
Five department authorities said the blast was caused by a malfunctuning boiler for the hot water heating system.
The explosion blew out two floors of one corner of the modernistic glass and brick building. The firm makes special castings for industry and does gas and extrusion welding.
MRS. CLARA BAXTER, 35, an office worker, was killed in the blast. CHARLES PLENKE, 49, a clerk, died in a hospital several hours later. Ten others in the hospital were listed in poor to fair condition.
PAUL A. KNUDSEN, the secretary of the firm, said:
"I was sitting upstairs in the comptroller's office when all of a sudden I thought a bomb struck the place .... I ran outside and saw the building had collapsed."
KNUDSEN said that a few minutes before the blast he talked with two maintenance men who told him they were going into the boiler room to find out why there was so much steam down there.
The export manager for the firm, FREDERICK OPIPZ, said he was in his second floor office when a radiator started to hiss, the floor heaved up and upset his chair and threw him under his desk as the roof collapsed.
The explosion left an 86 foot square pile of debris. Part of the second floor collapsed onto the first floor and then into the basement.
For over an hour more than 100 rescue workers feverishly dug at the rubble believing at least six persons were trapped.
"I knew the building was blowing up," office worker F. E. GARRIOT said," and I ducked under my desk. After that there was nothing I could do. I just rode the floor down to the basement."
GARRIOT was not seriously injured.
There was no fire following the explosion.

Kingsport News Tennessee 1956-10-09