Spencer, OK School Explosion, Jan 1982
SCHOOL BLAST KILLS 6, INJURES 35.
Spencer, Okla. (AP) -- A lunch hour explosion ripped through the kitchen of an elementary school Tuesday, raining glass, metal and concrete blocks on children eating lunch in the cafeteria. Police said five children and a teacher were killed and 35 people were injured.
Confusion prevailed outside the one-story brick Star Elementary School as screaming children mingled with rescue workers and ambulance attendants. Frantic parents rushed to the scene in this suburb east of Oklahoma City.
Ed Forman of the Midwest City Police Department said late in the afternoon that all the 270 children who attended the school had been accounted for.
Although officials said they had not pinpointed the cause of the blast, Florence Hardy, a diswasher in the school's kitchen, said she was certain the cause was a water heater.
She said one of two water heaters had been making the water too hot and had been worked on earlier in the day. She said she was in the kitchen when she hard a "swoosh and a bang" that "knocked everybody on the floor."
Phil Cooksey, spokesman for the Oklahoma City Fire Department, also indicated the blast was caused by a water heaters. He said a cook had turned on a faucet and got nothing but steam, and that the explosion occurred just after she left to report the situation.
Tom Payzant, Oklahoma City school superintendent, said at a news conference later in the day that a school maintenance worker had been called to fix the heater before classes began Tuesday.
Forman identified the dead children as:
PAUL C. MOTES, aged 7.
LATASHA M. BROWN, aged 8.
MARLOW T. WALLACE, aged 9.
GIRA M. HITER, aged 10.
KAREEM R. MANORA, aged 8.
Teacher DINNAH MANROE, 34.
He said the injured ranged in age from kindergaren to the fourth grade. One was still in intensive care at a local hospital late in the day.
Midwest City Police Sgt. Paul Long, first officer on the scene, suffered a heart attack but was reported in good condition at a hospital.
Forman said between 50 and 60 children were in the cafeteria when the blast ripped through the kitchen wall, leveling part of the building.
It was believed all those killed were seated at a single table waiting to go out to the playground.
"I heard this explosion, then I heard all these bells and I ran outside," said Christy Poe, a 9-year-old fourth-grader, who was outside the principal's office on the opposite side of the school from the cafeteria. "The firetrucks came and a teacher came and told us to go to the other side of the building."
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