Van Wert, OH Propane Gas Explosion, Aug 1965
GIRL KILLED, EIGHT HURT IN EXPLOSION.
Van Wert, Ohio (AP) -- A giant propane gas fireball, apparently touched off by a passing train, killed a 9-year-old girl, injured eight persons and seared a 100-acre Saturday.
"There was this big explosion, and all the windows broke," said Mrs. Merrill Wilkins, who lives 800 yards from the pipeline which flashed into flames visible for 40 miles with a roar that was heard up to 60 miles away.
"There was glass everywhere."
The rural area nine miles southwest of Van Wert looked like a scorched war zone. "Not a green thing was left in sight," reported Jerry Ryan of radio station WERT.
All the casualties were in the house nearest the blast scene 300 yards away. NANCY ANNA MAY RIGDON, asleep with the rest of her family, was killed.
In critical condition were her mother, MRS. PRISCILLA RIGDON, 29, and 7-year-old sister, ANNA MARIE. Her 11-year-old twin brothers, DAVID and DANIEL, have been taken off the critical list.
Less seriously injured were three other RIGDON children, ESTHER, 5, RACHEL, 3, and TIMMY, eight months, and a neighbor, RICHARD JONES, 10 years old.
"There was just this giant ball of flames leaping hundreds of feet in the air," said 16-year-old GEORGIA GRAHAM, one of the first on the scene.
Leaking propane from an eight-inch pipeline apparently was ignited by a spark from a passing Erie-Lackawanna train.
Buckeye Pipeline Co., which owns the line, identified the explosive substance as propane.
Abilene Reporter News Texas 1965-08-22