Skip to Content

Bridgeport, CT Steamer NUTMEG STATE Explodes, July 1897

STEAMER'S DECK BLOWN UP.

FOUR MEN KILLED AND OTHERS FATALLY WOUNDED ON THE NUTMEG STATE AT BRIDGEPORT.

EXPLOSION OF NAPHTHA VAPOR.

DECKHAND, IT IS THOUGHT, LIGHTED A MATCH IN THE CLOSED FORECASTLE -- TWO MEN BLOWN OVERBOARD AND SAVED.

Bridgeport, Conn., July 23. -- A dreadful explosion occurred of the steamer NUTMEG STATE of the Bridgeport Steamboat Company's Line at 6:30 o'clock this evening while she was lying at her slip at the foot of South Street, and as a result four men are dead, three others and thought to be fatally injured, and a number more are in a serious condition. The steamer was damaged to the extent of about $1,000.
The dead are:
CONNORS, JERRY, leg torn off, internal injuries; died while being taken to hospital.
MORAN, PATRICK, head shattered, killed instantly.
O'CONNELL, JERRY, both legs shattered, internal injuries; died at hospital.
Unknown Man, found dead in hold.
The injured:
CONNOLLY, JOHN, burned about face and chest.
GLENNAN, PATRICK, thirty-three, deck hand, thought to be fatally burned.
HARTWELL, JOHN, seriously burned on chest and arms and limbs.
LYNCH, EDWARD, burned about face and head.
MAGUIRE, MICHAEL, twenty-six, probably fatally burned about face and chest.
REARDON, MICHAEL, aged twenty-seven, burned about face and neck, internal injuries; not expected to live.
The men were all connected with the boat.
Immediately after the explosion an alarm of fire was sounded, but the fire was quickly extinguished, and the firemen had little to do but to assist and care for the injured. The explosion was probably caused by the igniting of naphtha vapor.
Whent he boat returned from her trip to New York this afternoon, BURTON M. REED of this city, according to custom, went aboard to clean up the forecastle, and sprinkled the beds and mattresses with naphtha vapor and then left.
The stevedores were eating on the "supper" deck, just over the hold, when the explosion took place, and the men were thrown in all directions against the woodwork. Two of the men were thrown overboard and were rescued uninjured, while none of the others escaped unharmed. The deck under the supper table was blown open at least ten feet wide, while both sides of the boat forward of the gangway were torn into splinters and thrown in all directions.
A huge mass of fragments was scattered all over the lower deck, and as far back as the engine room all the carpenter work was wrecked.
The interior of the dining room, in the forecastle, was completely wrecked also. An examination showed the hull to be uninjured, however.
The officials are reticent as to the direct cause of the explosion. It was first alleged that lightning struck the boat, but it was later ascertained that a deckhand went into the hold to light his pipe, and it is believed that the lighted match in the closed forecastle caused the naphtha vapor to explode. The injured were all taken to the General Hospital, while the bodies of the dead men were removed to the Morgue. Coroner DOTEN was informed of the accident, and will hold an investigation tomorrow.

The New York Times New York 1897-07-24



article | by Dr. Radut