Dunbar, PA Fireworks Plant Explosion, Feb 1966
FIVE KILLED, EIGHT INJURED IN DUNBAR FIREWORKS BLAST.
PACKING 'BOMBS' FOR HOLIDAY USE.
Dunbar, Penn., (by Fred Hevia) -- Five women were killed and eight other persons injured when an explosion ripped the Keystone Fireworks Co. plant in Dunbar this morning.
Killed instantly in the explosion were:
MRS. LOUIS (LOUISE) ROSS, Dunbar.
MRS. WILLIE (HELEN) TONIO, Dunbar.
LAVERNE McNATT, Mt. Braddock.
ANNA MAE WIDENER, Connellsville.
A fifth woman, MRS. FREDA BEZILLA of Dunbar, died in nearby Connellsville Hospital of injuries received in the blast.
The five victims were working in a building which produced "cherry bombs" -- a noisy firecracker used in fireworks displays. The building was completely leveled.
A sixth employe in the building -- JUNE MARTIN ORAWIEC of Dunbar -- was reported in "critical" condition at Connellsville Hospital.
The other injured employes were at work in other buildings in the complex located on a hill above Dunbar.
Authorities said one of the first persons on the scene was Fireman Lou Ross of Dunbar, who found his wife among the dead.
Admitted to Connellsville Hospital for treatment were MRS. MARION TRESSLER and MRS. MILDRED MILES, both of Dunbar.
Treated and released were MRS. MYRTLE BALSLEY of Uniontown; JOHN RUSE, Dunbar; MRS. LILLY PECK, Lemont Furnace R.D. 1; MRS. LUCY ROEBUCK, Dunbar R.D. 2; and MRS. HAZEL BARTLETT, Dunbar.
The owner of the plant, 74-year-old BEDY LIZZA of Dunbar, was also admitted to the hospital when he went into shock and collapsed.
The blast, which occurred about 8:45 a.m., demolished a frame building and damaged others. The force of the explosion was felt as far as three miles away.
The dead had been mixing chemicals when the explosion occurred, authorities said.
The company was in the midst of its busy season, preparing a fireworks inventory for Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. The plant is Fourth of July.
Police said previous explosions had hit the plant, the most recent occurring last summer. That blast was on a weekend, however, and no one was injured.
At least seven fire companies went to the scene today.
Robert Foltz, a newsman from nearby Uniontown, was one of the first at the site.
"The bodies were badly mutilated," he said. "The building itself was levelled and those around it damaged."
Dunbar is a community of about 1,500 persons.
Valley Independent Monesen Pennsylvania 1966-02-23