Racine, WI iron works company explosion, July 1898


Big Blaze in Racine, Wis., Pens Laborers on the Third Floor as in a Trap.

RACINE, Wis., July 12. - At 3:30 this afternoon an explosion occurred in the japaning room of the Racine Malleable and Wrought Iron Works, and in an instant the large building, which is a three-story brick structure, covering half a block, was in flames.

A spark set fire to the large barn belonging to James Nelson, two blocks away. Many houses and barns caught fire from the embers. The employes of the Fish Wagon Works fought to save their building. Three hundred men were at work at the time, and those on the upper floor jumped for their life.

The fire was under control at 5 o'clock. The loss will exceed $100,000. Two hundred and seventy-five of the 290 men have been accounted for.

The dead are John Keefe, Gus Knofski, and an unidentified body, supposed to be Adelbert Hollister.

The injured are James Dunlavey, Chris Poulson, probably fatally; George Case, fatal; Fred Potts, John Sigwart, John McNab, John Galldene, Christ Bolton, John James, George White, and Albert Miller. Many others who were injured were taken to their homes, and their names are not obtainable.

The workmen on the third floor were caught as in a trap. So suddenly did the flames reach them that several were blinded or suffocated by the smoke before help could reach them. Though the fire company was but a block away, the building was a mass of flames before the department arrived. Many of the workmen appeared in windows crying for help, while others jumped to the street below, receiving fatal or serious injuries.

The New York Times, New York, NY 14 Jul 1898