Chicago, IL Tenement Gas Explosion, Feb 1917

10 DIE IN CHICAGO BLAST.

TWENTY-FOUR PERSONS MISSING AMONG TENEMENT RUINS.

EXPLOSION CAUSED BY GAS.

MANY ALSO INJURED IN WEST SIDE TRAGEDY -- INVESTIGATIONS INTO CAUSE OF EXPLOSION ARE BEGUN -- JANITOR TELLS POLICE HE MADE COMPLAINT OF ODOR OF GAS TO THE COMPANY.

Chicago, Feb. 2. -- More than a hundred men worked tonight over the smoldering, ice-covered ruins of a tenement house, wrecked by an explosion at an early hour this morning. The tenement, located in the heart of the west side ghetto district, contained sleeping men, women and children variously estimated at between 80 and 90.
Of the number tossed in all directions and hurled beneath the debris by the force of the explosion, these results had been established tonight:
Known dead, 10.
Injured, 21.
Missing, 27.
Rescued (uninjured), 22.
Twenty-four hours more at least, according to Fire Marshal O'Connor, would be necessary to clear away the mass of debris and ice in order fully to determine whether there are others in the ruins. Late today firemen heard moaning under portions of the ruins and five persons were taken from the spot. It is believed there are about 12 others buried in the ruins.
The intense cold -- 10 below zero -- retarded the firemen and the streams turned on the burning tenement turned to ice almost as soon as the water fell.
The explosion is believed to have been caused by leaking gas. Long after the three-story brick building had fallen a pillar of fire stood up from the ruins, indicating a flow of gas, and it was not until hours later that this could be stopped.
Most of those rescued soon after the explosion sustained frozen hands or feet, as all were in scanty attire. The Henry Booth and other settlement places in the district were thrown open, and doctors in the neighborhood attended the injured until they could be taken to hospitals.
According to the janitor of the building, complaints of leaking gas had been made by him several times to gas company officials without result. This report of the janitor is being investigated by the coroner. The State's attorney announced tonight he would begin an investigation independent of the city police.
A special lighting system installed today made work possible tonight, and by morning it was hoped to establish the number of missing or dead definitely.
Shortly before midnight three additional bodies, those of a man and two boys, were recovered from the wreckage. All were frozen and unidentified.

Washington Post District Of Columbia 1917-02-03

-----------------------------------------------

SEEK DEAD IN CHICAGO RUINS.

RESCUERS ABANDON HOPE OF FINDING LIVE VICTIMS OF TENEMENT BLAST.

Chicago, Feb. 3. -- Handicapped by the coldest weather of the winter, workmen today searched for bodies in the ice-covered ruins which marked the site of the West Side tenement house wrecked by an explosion early yesterday. Of the 72 persons known to have been in the building at the time of the explosion, presumably caused by leaking gas, ten were known to be dead and twenty were missing today. Seven of the bodies recovered had been positively identified and the others were believed to be those of HENRY SPITZLEY, 45 years old, and his two nephews, WALTER and GEORGE SPITZLEY, both young boys.
Throughout the night searchlights played on the ruins and ambulances were kept in waiting. As rapidly as one exhausted shift of rescue workers stepped from the wreckage a fresh group, armed with shovels, picks and axes, jumped to the vacated places.

Washington Post District of Columbia 1917-02-04