West Plains, MO Dance Hall Explosion, Apr 1928
A coroner's jury today was working to learn the cause and fix the blame for the disaster. So far the cause of the blast still was a mystery, although many believed that gasoline storage tanks in the garage beneath the dance hall exploded. The garage was owned by J. N. WEISER, himself a victim of the blast.
WEISER had gone to sell some gasoline to a motorman. According to reports, he opened the door of his garage and immediately the explosion took place. When his body was found the knob of the garage door was clutched in one hand.
The blast came just as a happy crowd was leaving a picture show, shortly before midnight. Many were bent on visiting the dance hall before their homeward journey.
Heat Blocks Rescuers
Quickly recovering from the first shock of the explosion, the theater crowds organized into crews and set to work looking for bodies of the dead and injured.
The force of the explosion caved in the walls of the garage. Dancers on the second floor of the building were blown off their feet. Intense heat of the fire and the fact that all electric lights in the town were put out of commission hampered rescue work.
As news of the tragedy spread, residents of nearby towns hurried to the scene and offered their services. Scores of citizens were deputized to keep order.
Some of the injured were found many feet from the scene of the blast. A prominent merchant, H. C. ALLEN, was picked up by rescue workers 50 feet from the dance hall. Both his legs were broken and his arm torn off.
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