Spencer, OK School Explosion, Jan 1982

Spencer OK Elementary School Explosion 1982.gif


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.
GIRA M. HITER, aged 10.
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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School Explosion

Hi I was also there....I was fairly new, but the teacher who passed away saved my life...she told me to get under the table then a wall fell on her I think...I was very scared and hurt at the time... I didn't know what happened I remember screaming then looking up and soap was falling from the ceiling into my eyes... After that its all a blur.... it was enlightening to see other survivors on here, sorry I found this sight late you can face book me if you want my name used to be Charlene Leniger but now its Charlene Tarver but my friends call me Charley :)

Your birthday twin remember mrs. monroe

Hi Jeff,

This is Floreta Buzzell at the time my last name was Turner and we were the only biracial children in Mrs. Monroe's class. I came across this article so I thought I would send you a message. It has been so many years. but I am thankful for life. I haven't really got to see or talk to any of the survivors of that faithful day. I just don't know what else to say because every time think about it. i just cry and wonder will i ever be the same? i know I won't.

What happened to the person

What happened to the person who caused the school explosion by removing the temperature probe on the water heater relief valve?

School explosion

I too was there that Dreadful day. I just left the lunchroom that day In such a hurry to play kickball with my friends. It seems so unreal and Things I seen that day Haunt me. Chaos from parents teachers police departments and all the children was more than my little mind could take. Miss Curtis was the best teacher I've ever had she got ahold of me And Hid my face of the madness That was going on around me. I had minor cuts and bruises from the blast. I still have nightmares that fill my nights at 40 years old fromthat day in Jan 1982. If any classmates would like to talk you can reach me at 2565666923 I now live in Alabama and have 4 beautiful kids. Tho she may have passed away by now thank you Miss Corey Curtis for everything. I look forward to talking to any of my old classmates. Please feel free to call anytime.

Me, too.

I was sitting at Kareem's table, according to a newspaper diagram of where the deceased were seated. I was in 4th grade...my injuries were minor compared with others.

Other former Star students can contact me at: facebook.com/cassie.hodges.16

I attended that school as

I attended that school as well, but was absent that day.

I was there on that day!

It was Jan 19th 1982 I was 10 the day after my birthday I begged my mother not to send me to school that day! but she reluctant to send me, as I arrived for the day of school ahead of me Mrs. Monroe had a day long planed full of learning for us! Mrs. Monroe was the teacher that died that day. We went to lunch that after noon filling in the lunch line to get what the lunch ladys were dishing up!! I remember what they were serving like it was yesterday lunch was my favorite part of school right ahead of recess!! as we passed thru the line trying to get to our tables there was a distinct sound coming from the kitchen area as I remember correctly this sound was all morning long! from breakfast that morning till lunch this was an erie sound for even a 10 year old kid to recognize as to something was not right! But as to that moment I was on a mission to get to my lil smokies, corn, mashed potatoes, large heavy dense yeast roll the best!, and chocolate milk and as I started my collective barganing as most children did trade luch food I had accumilated a heaping amount of lil smokies n 2 cartons of that sweet nector choclate milk!! The day was good so far! I had just finished off my corn and one milk and and the oh so good roll!! I just started to eat my lil smokies cause I saved the best for last my large bounty of the lil goodies! When it seemed like some body turned out the lights I never felt nothing not a blow by not a kaboom I heard nothing! lights out K.O. As I came to laying on my left side on top of a folded chair dirt, debris, soap, were in my eyes I could barley see as I cleared some of the crap from my eyes I noticed a huge gaping hole emitting from the the N.E. corner of the cafeteria. I felt my head and noticed a large amont of blood coming from my head on my right side over my eye brow and from my chin area. As I tryed to get up from atop of the folding chair that I had come know as the chair the flew across the cafeteria and stuck me. See these folding chairs were up against the wall were the explosion took place about 30' ft. away and i was laid up on top of one that had struck me amongst the other debris rocks and cender blocks that were struin across the room. I got up from the floor trying to stand I stood and looked all around I fell back down on my ass and vomited the lunch I was trying to consum along with that was blood! I was scared as hell and didnt know what to do, as I looked to my right I noticed the school principle stubling in from the main part of the school, to me it seemed he was in more shock than I was he didnt know what to do either, weather it was to continue to stand there in aww or to start helping out the victims out of the building! Kids were everywhere in the cafeteria I tryed once again to come to my feet and make it out to the east doors of the cafetiria as i walked out of the room I had to step over several of my class mates one was Angela Martin she was badly injured (she was the girl that died in the hospital sum days later) it seemed she had blood coming from everyhwere I didnt know what to think my brain was on auto pilot to get hell out of the room, I stumbled past the principle he was still just still standing there, as he looked in my direction! I made it out the east doors to make it to the side of the building where there was no distruction! I sat on the step and leaned against the railing wrapping my arms and hands around those poles they were my security my saviours! I glanced across the school compound as the fire alarms were blairing in the back ground, I noticed Mrs. Gray another teacher standing @ the gated fence standing with the other children that had been evacuated from other parts of the school building. As I sat shaking and scared as hell I wasnt leting go of those railings! A shadowy figure appeared over me, it was old farmer John that lived next to the school us kids didnt know what his real name was so we jus nicked named him farmer John I was happy to see him! He asked if I was ok I told him I didnt know he tryed to pick me up but I refussed to let go of the poles he finally got me released from my death grip I had goin on! he carried me through the school to the west side of the building where police fire and parimedics were starting to arrive I was taken to Midwest city Regional hospital where emergancy surgery was performed on me I had exploritory surgery for severe internal bleeding. I tahnk all that helped me that dreadful day espeacially farmer John I never seen him again since that day nor any of my class mates i've ran in to some people over the years but never kept contact with them! I currently live in Norman, Ok with my own 2 grown kids!! it will be 30 years this Jan 19, 2012 I plan on returning to the site where the school once stood it has been torn down since then and a walgreens has been erected in its place. Thats a day in my life that will never be forgotten!! I hope others that survived will join me on Jan 19, 2012 to celebrate the life that is givin to us!!! find me on face book Jeffrey Downing - Washington 405-881-8959

I was there

I was sitting a that imfamous table. I was 8 yrs old. If anyone wants to talk about that day you can call me 405.245.8348