Chicago, IL Gas Explosion, Feb 1902
The cause of the explosion is unknown, and it has not yet been determined whether it was sewer gas or illuminating gas. Mains filled with the latter were instantly ablaze after the explosion and a succession of explosions followed, the flames shooting up through the manholes in the street. It would be difficult to ascertain whether the illuminating gas exploded or whether the mains were broken by the explosion of sewer gas. Many people living in the vicinity believe that the first explosion was in a main at Twenty-second and Archer avenue. Then the manhole half a block south on Archer avenue was thrown into the air by a loud explosion. Flames leaped high from the hole. The fire spread below the street and other manholes were blown into the air. The flames from the first gas main shot high into the air and reached with the aid of the wind the Trostel butcher shop. The building was a three-story frame structure and it had been weakened and nearly wrecked by the shock. It is supposed that the occupants of the building were knocked unconscious or were too panic stricken to rush from the place. The flames caught the weather-worn timbers. The dry and rotting wood was food for the fire and in an instant the flames had enveloped the structure. With a roar the building collapsed and the occupants with one exception were carried with it to the basement. The adjoining building, a two-story structure, flared up, the next building was wrapped in flame and then another structure caught fire. It seemed that the whole block would be wiped out before the firemen could bring the blaze under control. A fire wall of a brick building at Archer avenue and Twenty-second street held the fire in that direction. On the west of the burning buildings were two small one-story cottages. They were a few feet from the burning buildings and that gave the firemen and opportunity of heading off the fire.
LIKE AN EARTHQUAKE SHOCK.
Window glass throughout the neighborhood was broken and bottles and glass-ware in the dwellings and stores were thrown to the floor and broken. Many persons in buildings near the explosions were knocked down. Scores of men and women, many of them carrying children, rushed to the streets. They were greeted by the glare of the fire from the manholes.
Later---At 2 o'clock this morning ten bodies had been recovered fro the ruins of the Trostel house. They had been identified as OTTO TROSTEL, MRS. AUGUSTA TROSTEL, ANNIE TROSTEL, 11 years of age, LENA TROSTEL, 7 years of age; SOPHIE KNELPNE, domestic in Trostel family; OTTO TROSTEL, JR.; MRS. MAMIE ROSENTHAL, FRED TROSTEL, unknown man, unidentified woman.
Morning World-Herald, Omaha, NE 6 Feb 1902