West Belmar, NJ Boiler Explosion, June 1961


West Belmar, N.J. -- UPI -- The four women always arrived early for the weekly bingo game at Fireman's
They took the same seats at the same table in the front row. Quickly the 50-by-100 foot hall filled up, mostly with middle-aged women. A hush fell as the game began.
The intent silence was broken by cries of "Bingo," and the excited chatter of the losers after each game.
Midway through one game a different sound shattered the intense quiet.
Explosion. And then screaming panic.
Two feet to the left of the caller a door had blown in with a roar. Steaming water showered the players in the front row. A boiler had blown up.
Thirty-two of the more than 200 players were injured.
The only ones hospitalized were the four ladies who arrived early.
Most seriously hurt was MRS. RUTH EMMONS, 50, of South Belmar. She underwent emergency surgery for second and third degree burns over most of her body. Also admitted to Fitkin Memorial
Hospital in nearby Neptune, N.J., were MRS. EVA NORRIS, 48; MRS. LOUISE DERRES, 60, and her daughter, EDITH, 40. THey suffered burns of the legs.
The Saturday night bingo game has been running at Fireman's Hall for some 15 years, according to Frank Helmka, 38, a member of the Wall Township
Volunteer Fire Department. The proceeds help defray the cost of operating the volunteer department.
Helmka said there was momentary panic at the sound of the blast, but the women left in orderly fashion after calming down.
The cause of the blast was under investigation.

Tucson Dily Citizen Arizona 1961-06-05