Chicago, IL Trolley - Gas Truck Fire, Mar 1950

1950 Chicago Street Car crash

Search Nearby Buildings For Dead After Flames Engulf Area Where 33 Died When Trolley, Gas Truck Hit

Chicago (U.P.)--Search crews found evidence today that a baby died with 33 other persons in an explosion and fire that blasted a South side neighborhood when a trolley ploughed into a gasoline truck last night.

Police and firemen dug through the ruins of seven buildings ignited by the searing flames that trapped passengers aboard the crowded streetcar.

Patrolman Van Clay found a baby's foot lying in the street near the crash scene. It was sent to the police laboratory(sic).

Officials believe the baby's body may have been consumed in the fire that left four of the seven buildings with all interior walls and flooring burned out.

Deputy Chief of police Phillip Breitzke said there was a possibility, however, that the baby's body was one of the charred pieces in the Cook county morgue.

The crews proceeded gingerly for fear that the water soaked walls still standing might collapse. They believed, however, that the bodies of all victims had been found.

Meanwhile, officials organized a sweeping inquiry to determine whether criminal negligence was involved in the disaster.

Coroner A.L. Brodie said he would impanel a jury of experts June 1st to investigate. He was expected to coordinate inquiries by the fire department, police, state fire marshal, the Interstate Commerce Commission and the State Commerce Commission.

Private investigators were expected by various insurance companies and by petroleum associations interested in the shipment of gasoline and other flammables.

A search for four children previously reported missing was abandoned after their mother reported that she personally had handed them through a window of their flaming apartment to a stranger who apparently took them to his home. Radio stations broadcast a request for the stranger to take the children to the Red Cross for return to their mother.

The tragedy struck the south side at dinner hour last night."It was terrible,"said one eyewitness. "I could look into the window of the streetcar and see those people roasting to death in a tangled mass as they fought to get out the door.

"Only a few escaped through windows. Their clothes were on fire. They looked like little flaming dolls."

The city's "disaster plan 5" was put into effect minutes after the blast. It is the same plan that will be used if an atomic bomb ever hits here. One-thousand police and all available fire equipment responded.

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