Montague, ME Millinery Store Gas Explosion, Jan 1904


Two Persons Known To Be Dead and Four Missing.

Montague, Me., January 7---A gas explosion in the millinery store of Cleary Bros. tonight killed at least two persons, severely injured five others and started a fire that destroyed the building with a loss of $25,000.

Four persons who were thought to have been in the store when the explosion occurred are missing, and it is feared that their dead bodies will be found in the ruins. The concussion was felt throughout the town and huge timbers were thrown 100 yards.

The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, GA 8 Jan 1904



Two Lives Lost In Explosion In a Maine Town.


Finally Perished Before Eyes of Would Be Rescuers.

Montague, Me., Jan 8.---Without a moment's warning the store and home above it of James and Thomas Cleary was blown to please by a gas explosion in the basement. Two persons were killed, five others severely injured, while a score of persons on the street sustained cuts from flying glass JAMES CLEARY [line ineligible] was burned to death, while MISS NETTIE PLATT, a clerk, was caught in the ruins, and despite the frantic efforts of a score of men to release her, suffered a similar fate.

The escape of Thomas Cleary, who was in the store at the time, and of his mother, Mrs. James Cleary and her baby, James Varney and Robert Clancy, all of whom were in the rooms above the store, was almost miraculous. Those in the rooms above were hurled with terrific force onto the snow outside the building and the elder Mrs. Cleary was severely, if not fatally, injured, but neither Mrs. James Cleary nor her baby was injured. Thomas Cleary, who happened to be in the front of the store at the time, was blown into the street and badly bruised and he is suffering so severely as to be delirious.

The force of the explosion hurled some of the pieces of the building a distance of a quarter of a mile and broke glass in nearly every house in town. Every pane in a drug store directly opposite was demolished and a large number of bottles were also broken.

The explosion is believed to have occurred while James Cleary was arranging the gas machine for the night. He was downstairs at the time, and on the ground floor was his brother. Thomas Cleary, and Miss Platt. So far as known there was no other person in that part of the building when the explosion occurred. The ruins took fire almost immediately and burned with great fierceness. Miss Platt was caught between the counter and a heavy wall, and while the firemen were able to get near enough to grasp her hand, they could not cut her out from the timbers which pinned her down before the flames drove them back. Her pleadings to be saved were heartrending. She died before their eyes.

The building was somewhat isolated from the rest of those on the main street, so that the flames did not communicate to any other property. The Cleary brothers carried a heavy stock of millinery goods, as well as a variety of merchandise, and the loss on the building and its contents is estimated at $25,000.

The Fitchburg Sentinel, Fitchburg, MA 8 Jan 1904