Detroit, MI Box Factory Fire, Aug 1945
11 WOMEN, 2 MEN PERISH IN DETROIT BOX FACTORY FIRE.
PLANT QUICKLY TURNED INTO INFERNO AND VICTIMS DIE IN LEAPS FROM SECOND STORY WINDOWS.
WARNING UNHEEDED AS JUKE BOX BLARES.
RUSH TO GET OUT BEGINS ONLY AFTER FLAMES START LICKING AT STAIRWAY -- 52 PERSONS HURT.
Detroit, Aug. 13. -- (AP) -- A sudden fire, sweeping through a Detroit boxing factory today, brought death to 11 women and two men and injuries to 52 other persons, several of whom are not expected to live.
The fire turned the plant of the Export Box and Sealer Company at Grand River avenue and Fifteenth street into an inferno in a few seconds.
The blaze broke out as the 180 employes, mostly women, were in the midst of a rest period and were listening to a juke box.
Apparently disbelieving a shout of fire from the first floor of the two-story factory building, the workers continued to listen to the blaring of the mechanical player until flames began licking the stairway. Then came a rush for doors and windows. Most of the victims, seared by flames or maddened by the intense heat, died after leaping from second story windows and crashing on the sidewalk of one of Detroit's most heavily traveled streets.
The exact cause of the fire has not been determined. Some of those who escaped from the first floor where the blaze started said it followed an explosion. Others asserted they heard no explosion.
Fire Marshal EDWARD W. HALL, who at first placed the dead at 19 and expressed the belief others would be found dead in the wreckage of the plant, said later that all persons in the building had been accounted for.
Early this evening 13 bodies had been taken to the county morgue and 27 persons to hospitals. At least 25 others suffered minor injuries for which they received first aid treatment.
Most of the dead were so badly burned that identification was impossible. Six hours after the fire only one of the dead had been identified. She was MRS. LORETTA DONALDSON, who died in receiving hospital.
One woman, who like many of the others sought to jump from the second story window, was overcome just as she reached the window. She burned to death lying helpless over the window sill.
Fire Hazards Disclosed.
Fire Marshal HALL said the plant which was engaged in boxing war materials, included replacement parts for tanks and aircraft for shipment overseas, was closed in April after an investigation disclosed several fire hazards. It was allowed to reopen, he said, after later check showed fire department regulations had been complied with.
The fire marshal declined to venture an immediate opinion as to the cause of the fire. He said he had been told that it might have resulted from inflammable material leaking from a recently repaired degreasing tank.
Another theory was advanced by LOUIS MARKLE, 30, an ordnance department inspector who said he believed it resulted from the pouring of a cold oil-corrosion fluid into a hot tank. MARKLE was in the plant at the time and said he saw flames break out under one of the tanks on the first floor.
Joplin Globe Missouri 1945-08-14
List of the identified dead from the News-Palladium Benton Harbor Michigan 1945-08-14
MRS. VERA BOOKER, 20.
MRS. LORETTA DONALDSON.
MRS. LAVINA HERBISON, 52.
MRS. BERTHA FORHAN, 52.
VICTORIA GALLO, 50.
MRS. CAROLINE JACKSON, 50.
MRS. JENNIE A. KLINGER, 62.
MRS. PAULINE LOOMIS, 37.
ADRIAN SHATTUCK, 49.
MRS. VONELL WEBB, 28.