Edgewood, MD Arsenal Explosion, May 1945

Edgewood Arsenal MD Post Exchange Building.jpg

FLAMES SWEEP ARSENAL AFTER BLAST KILLS 9.

52 INJURED AT EDGEWOOD; GUARDS THROWN AROUND BURNING BUILDINGS.

Edgewood Arsenal, Md., May 25. -- (AP) -- Flames were still raging in the Army's chemical warfare service buildings today three hours after an explosion in which nine persons were reported killed and 52 injured.
All of the injured were taken to the station hospital and the Army's 3rd Service Command in Baltimore said two of them were critically hurt and in dying condition.
Outsiders were banned from the arsenal area immediately after the blast which occurred at 3:28 p.m. (Eastern War Time), although the Army made no announcement of the explosion until 3:45 p.m.
LT. COL. PAUL McGAHAN, assistant public relations officer of the Service Command, said that for national security reasons no information as to the cause or extent of the blast could be released immediately. He said that the explosion occurred in the loading area.
The caution against outsiders also was because of possible danger, he said.
Names of the dead and injured were not yet available, and McGAHAN added that it had been impossible to get into the area to determine extent of the loss or whether all persons in the area had been accounted for. A heavy guard detail operated around the scene.
A special board of officers was named immediately by Brig. Gen. ROY L. AVERY, Edgewood commanding officer, to conduct an investigation.
Persons living in nearby area said they were not aware that an explosion had taken place, and several explained that "we are used to explosions and big gunfire, since the Aberdeen proving ground is just across the river from Edgewood arsenal and they always are testing guns at Aberdeen."
Edgewood arsenal is 20 miles northwest of Baltimore and is the site of the Army's Chemical Warfare school and the headquarters for the Chemical Warfare Service. Construction of the arsenal began in November, 1917, during World War I and by a year later when the war ended was 90 percent complete. Many of those buildings were razed but in recent years the arsenal has been expanded and many of the structures there are now of permanent type.
It has been the chief research center for the Chemical Warfare Service in World war II.

Charleston Gazette West Virginia 1945-05-26

Listing of identified dead:
ANNIE E. ALSTON, 33, negro.
CLARICE CATLIN, 28, negro.
MARY F. JOHNSON, 28, negro.
CLAUDIA McGHEE, 22, negro.
ELEANORA M. OLIVER, 36, negro.
CORA M. PYNE.
LUCILLE SPRINGER, 34, negro.
LENA WASHINGTON, 34, negro.
All were from Baltimore.