Bayonne, NJ Propane Explosion, Dec 1960


Bayonne, N.J. (AP) -- A storage tank containing potent liquid propane exploded Wednesday night. Four men were injured, one of them critically, and hundreds fled their homes.
Scene of the explosion was the Sun Gas Products Corp., located in Bayonne's "Constable
Hook" section, near New York Bay.
Flames climber 1,000 feet into the sky and windows for blocks around were shattered by the impact.
Police evacuated everybody from within a five-block radius of the explosion scene and cordoned it off.
Firemen sprayed the flames and wet down a huge tank containing oil, just 200 yards away. At one point, flames were within 50 yards of the oil tank.
But shortly before 2 a.m. today, firemen announced the fire was under control.
Critically injured was truck driver STANLEY BUCHALSKI, 40, of Chester, N.Y. He was taken to Bayonne Hospital suffering from third degree burns over 40 percent of his body.
Also injured were BILLY ROWAN, 27, of Bayonne, a volunteer worker; EARL LEWIS, 47, of Port Jervis, N.Y., a truck driver; and HAROLD McCARTER, 39, also of Bayonne. These men were not seriously injured. Police retracted an earlier report indicating one man had died, when a missing man was located.
Police gave this account of events leading up to the explosion:
Three men, including BUCHALSKI and LEWIS, were engaged in loading gas into a small tank.
Somehow, a spark ignited the gas.
A small drum of gas exploded, then another and another.
BUCHALSKI and those with him tried to move their truck away from the exploding drums. It was then that BUCHALSKI was burned.
Nobody is sure how many drums exploded; one report indicated there were 18.
But the smaller explosions were enough to touch off the big storage tank, which went off with earsplitting force.

Port Angeles Evening News Washington 1960-12-29