Cedar Rapids, IA Douglas Starch Co Explosion, May 1919

The Ruined Buildings Shortly After The Explosion

DOUGLAS CO. DEAD 11
35 MISSING BELIEVED IN RUINS

FIRE AT STARCH PLANT UNDER CONTROL; COMPANY FINALLY GIVES OUT LIST OF MEN TO CHECK.

That the management of the Douglas Starch works is lacking in its efforts to complete an intelligent check on the missing and the dead is apparent from its stubborn intention to keep the public as much in the dark as possible regarding the catastrophe. Naturally, the officials could not be expected to make a detailed statement, theoretically or otherwise, concerning the tragedy in its plant, but every attempt to obtain some sort of information regarding the identity of the men known to have been in the plant at the time of the explosion, as compared to the list of unaccounted for, was flatly opposed by the management and its representatives.

The plant maintains a labor bureau. It is presumed that this bureau is in possession of other information regarding employes than their mere names. A check of employes in the factory at the time of catastrophe, coupled with investigation as to their whereabouts today, should have disclosed a list of dead and missing by an early hour this morning.

Indications point to a lack of such a check, for at noon officials and others engaged in a haphazard effort to get dependable information still insisted on the maintenance of their attitude of indifference to the public demand for a comprehensive list.

Shortly before noon it was announced from the timekeeper's office of the Douglas plant that ten are known to be dead, five are identified and that there were thirty-five missing.

When it was suggested to P. B. GRIFFITH, one of the men in the timekeeper's office, that the publication of the names of those whom the check had shown to be missing would aid in finding those who had not been injured but had not yet reported themselves safe, "we'll do our own thinking," was the reply.

MR. GRIFFITH then called Manager A. W. LENDERS and asked about news he could give out.

"See MR. LENDERS," the reporters were told.

"Can't you give us the names of those identified?"

"See MR. LENDERS, and stay out of this office!"

Again MR. GRIFFITH was asked for the names of the identified dead.
"See MR. LENDERS. That's plain English."

MR. LENDERS only repeated what he had said earlier in the morning.
At that time he was asked if the company did not have some theory as to the cause of the explosion.

NOT THEORIZING
"We are not theorizing. We are in the midst of it," he replied.
"Well, don't you have some idea as to the loss of life," the reporter asked.

'We're checking up on the cards now, and just as soon as we know definitely what we are talking about we'll make an announcement."

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