Auburn, NY Service Station Explosion, Mar 1960
FIVE KILLED AS EXPLOSION RIPS AUBURN GAS STATION.
Auburn (AP) - Police today evacuated an endangered two-block business area where five men were killed in a gasoline station explosion Wednesday night.
Gasoline fumes in a theater and a beauty parlor led to the precautionary evacuation. Police roped off the area, which contains small retail stores.
They said the explosion had ruptured underground storage tanks and gasoline was seeping from the tanks.
The explosion killed three firemen and two employees of the gas station and demolished the 30-by-40-foot cinder-block building.
Fire Chief Luke J. Bergan said today a spark from a compressor motor probably had ignited the fumes. He said gas apparently had leaked from a tank into a pit area of a building attached to the station.
Fireman SIDNEY BURRIDGE, the only one of a four-man fire detail to survive the explosion, said his group had found three to four inches of gasoline covering the cellar of the small, attached building.
The firemen had been summoned to the downtown area because of the gas odor. The five bodies were recovered from the ruins.
The blast shattered windows within two blocks of the station, which stood at South and Lincoln Streets All the windows in the First Universalist Church, across the street, and in the three-story apartment building were shattered.
Cinder blocks were scattered 50 to 100 feet away.
Occupants of the apartments were evacuated.
The dead firemen were:
LT. ALFRED MURPHY, 52.
JOHN SEARING, 27.
and ANTHONY CONTRERA, 36.
Also killed were WALTER OCKENFELS, who operated the station for the R. J. Connor Oil Co., and JOHN BELL, a Connor employee.
Injured were MRS. IDA YEAPLE and MRS. MABEL BILLS. MRS. BILLS was released after treatment at Memorial Hospital. MRS. YEAPLE was reported in fair condition.
Connor estimated damage to his property at $50,000.
Estimates of damage to other property were not available.
Oswego Palladium-Times New York 1960-03-31