Chicago, IL Printing Plant Explosion, Sep 1969
FATAL EXPLOSION BLAMED ON VAPOR.
Chicago (AP) -- Vapor from highly volatile ink was tentatively named the cause of the explosion which killed four persons and injured more than 40 others in the huge R. R. Donnelley and Sons printing plant Wednesday, police said.
The blast knocked out windows, caved in part of the floor and tore holes in the walls of the plant. Four one-ton rolls of paper were among the debris blown into a nearby street.
At the time of the blast about 100 persons were working in the plant, which is among the world's largest commercial printing operations.
The block-square brick bruilding is one of several in the Donnelley complex about two miles south of the downtown district.
An investigator from the police bomb and arson unit said a spark, apparently from one of the printing presses, may have ignited the vapor from ink being used for a special magazine insert. He added that Wednesday's high humidity increased the danger of explosion by holding down the vapors.
Among the national magazines printed at the plant are Look, Life, Time, Sports Illustrated and The New Yorker.
The firm also prints telephone directories for a number of cities. Company officials said a computer system which automatically records changes in the Chicago Telephone Directory was affected by the explosion.
Until the damage is repaired, printing operations will be shifted to other buildings.
Fire department officials estimated the damage at $100,000.
The dead were identified as:
SHERMAN WINTERS, 41, of Chicago.
BERNICE NELSON, 45, of Chicago.
LAWRENCE MARTINS, 22, of Chicago.
VESTILLA CORNELL, 51, of Gary, Ind.
Twenty-six injured were taken to four nearby hospitals. Some 20 others were treated in the plant infirmary.
Freeport Journal-Standard Illinois 1969-09-25