Worcester, MA Fireworks Explosion, Jul 1904

Fireworks Explode in Store

Panic-Stricken Women and Children Rescued from Cellar of Burning Building

Special to The New York Times.

WORCESTER, Mass., July 2.—Accidentally stepping on a bomb-jack, a large torpedo, Albert Childs, a clerk of the Nelson Five and Ten Cent Store, 526 and 528 Main Street, started a fire at 6:30 o'clock to-night which caused the explosion of $700 worth of fireworks and cut off forty customers and clerks from the only exit in the store.

Women and children were injured and suffocated by the smoke and were finally rescued from the cellar, where they had fled to avoid the flames. Manuel Oviginian was caught under a freight elevator as it was descending with twenty-five women in it, into the bottom of the pit. He was taken to the City Hospital, where his right leg was amputated. He is not expected to live. Twenty-five women and children received minor injuries and were carried to their homes in police ambulances.

The discharge of pyrotechnics created a panic among the men, women, and children in the store. Skyrockets, mines, Roman candles, and $300 worth of firecrackers filled the air with balls of fire.

With one wild rush the. crowd ran to the back of the store to the elevator shaft. Here they crowded in wild confusion until Frances Hoyt, the cashier, got to the place, and quieting the crowd on the elevator, crowd saw the detectives with axes, and followed.

The detectives rushed at the hotel doors, which had quickly been locked and bolted. A few strokes of the axes had them down, and the officers continued on through the hotel. On the second floor they found a room brilliantly lighted.

Admittance was demanded, but as no answer came, the axes were again used..

Only four men were still inside, and these were„ arrested. The other occupants had made good their: flight by going out through windows, and jumping to the ground, while others passed .through a door on the other side of the room, and, going up stairs, reached the roof and made their escape in that way.

As the escaping players jumped from the porch roof to the ground they were received with shouts of derision by the crowd of several thousand below.

The .elevator had just started when some one in t h e cellar pulled the cord and started the elevator down with its load of human freight. The cellar was fast filling with smoke, and here the firemen found t he women half suffocated.

After the fireworks had all blown up, the fire, which had started in all part of the store; was quickly extinguished. One little boy, who had been locked up in a room directly under where the fire started, on t h e charge of stealing candy in the store, was rescued by the firemen, terribly scared, but unhurt.  

The New York Times, New York, NY 3 Jul 1904