Centralia, IL Building Explosion, Mar 1948
5 VICTIMS OF BLAST FOUND IN WRECKAGE.
Centralia, Ill. -- UP -- Rescuers removed five bodies and searched for more today in the ruins of a two-story building demolished by an explosion.
Twenty-three persons were injured in the blast last night when, the roof of the brick frame building was blown off and the walls crumbled.
Sheriff TIB WOOLRIGHT said he feared that about 10 more bodies were buried beneath the debris. He based his estimate on the number of persons believed to have been in the building.
The known dead include four men and a woman. A mother and her three small children were among the injured.
The building housed a tavern, a pool room and two upstairs apartments.
The cause of the explosion was unknown, but KENNETH OWENSBY, the co-owner of the demolished tavern said it might have been caused by an accumulation of sewer gas beneath the building. Many of the injured who scrambled from the debris said the blast apparently was beneath the floor.
ESTHER PARKS, 17, a waitress in the tavern, said the explosion "blew me into the air."
"I saw the front of the building open up," she said, "and I crawled through to the street."
MISS PARKS was injured seriously.
Bricks, mortar and debris were thrown more than 100 feet into the air and blocked a nearby railroad right-of-way, delaying trains.
Another tavern adjoining the demolished building, was damaged by the blast.
Firemen said that a six-year-old girl was blown from one of the upstairs apartments onto a next-door building which also was damaged. She landed in a sitting position on a beam and firemen heard her crying, "Get me down, get me down."
Physicians said she was unhurt but suffered shock.
Fire companies from surrounding towns aided the local force in bringing the fire under control about an hour after the explosion. Shortly afterwards, however, the fire broke out again. It burned furiously for a time before again being controlled.
Oelwein Daily Register Iowa 1948-03-19
LIST OF DEAD AND INJURED IN CENTRALIA EXPLOSION -- From The Daily Register Harrisburg Illinois 1948-03-19
Centralia, March 19 -- (U.P.) -- All but three of the known dead and injured in the tavern explosion last night were Centralia residents. The non-residents were MARIE MADDOX, 21, East St. Louis, Ill. She was not injured seriously. ORAL LEEDS, JR., 27 of Champaign, brakeman on Illinois Central Railroad, and WAYNE SCOTT, 26, of Champaign, fireman on Illinois Central Railroad.
A list of casualties compiled at hospitals and funeral homes, included:
MRS. FRANK NICHOLS, about 60, Centralia.
JAMES ROLLO TILFORD, 61, Centralia, a barber.
PERCY ARCOUET, about 60. Centralia, retired railroad conductor.
ORAL LEEDS, JR., 27, Champaign, Ill., Illinois Central brakeman.
WAYNE SCOTT, 26, Champaign, Ill., Illinois Central fireman. (tentatively identified.)
VICTOR SMITH, Centralia, pool room employee.
FRANK NICHOLS, 59, husband of MRS. NICHOLS.
KENNETH OWENSBY, co-owner of the tavern.
DAN STOVER, 28.
HAROLD STOVER, 33.
ESTHER PARKS, 17.
Not seriously injured:
MARIE MADDOX, 21, East St. Louis.
LEROY GRIMES, bartender.
MRS. FRANCIS LONGORIA, 29.
CAROL LEE LONGORIA, 8.
JUDITH ANN LONGORIA, 4.
LABELLE MEEK, 40.
THELMA THOMPSON, 35.
ERNEST MATNEY, 34.
L. A. WEST, 52.
ROY TATE, 48.
C. M. MELTON, 56.
DOROTHY LONGORIA, 6.
Released from hospital after treatment:
WILLIAM WATSON, 52.