Pinole, CA Powder Works Explosion, July 1903



Pinole, California -- An explosion took place this morning at 9:30 o'clock which completely destroyed the shot gun cartridge building of the California Powder Works Company at Pinole, which is a structure 75 by 40 feet and two stories high and built of frame and iron.
MISS MARY WOOD was killed with four others more or less injured being:
There were in the house at the same time also Foreman W. B. Stevens, Assistant Foreman Clarence Sylvester, Joseph A. Kearney, machine man, F. Handley, a packer, and Charles Hard, a powder carrier, all of whom escaped injury.
MISS WOODS the girl who was killed was 17 years of age and resided at Hercules. She was shot through the breast and a piece of the shot cut her windpipe and an artery and she bled to death a few minutes after the accident.
BERRYMAN was 21 years of age. He was burned all over in a severe manner and his nose was broken. He has been in the employ of the company about four or five years.
DEMELLO was 19 years of age and has been an employe of the company for about seven years at Santa Cruz. His clothing was burned off of him and he was badly burned.
KINCANNON was badly burned from the explosion. He has been in the employ of the company for about five years. His mother resides at Santa Cruz.
MARY MAGUIRE is 21 years of age and was an inspectress. She had a hole punched in her head and it will be necessary to trephine the skull. She also had another hole punched in her body above the kidneys.
A girl named Jose Merritt, 16 years of age, who was sitting right opposite MISS WOOD who was killed, escaped injury.
The cause of the accident was due to a nail which had gotten into one of the cartridges.
When the cartridge came to be filled a primer struck it and it was smashed, and that caused the explosion, which went up the powder pipe to the powder hopper and ignited a quantity of powder.
The fact that the people who were in the building escaped death was due to the presence in the building of only one keg of black powder.
The company never has more than one keg of powder in their packing building at one time.
The remains of MISS WOOD were taken to her home in Hercules.
Coroner Curry, was summoned from Martinez to hold an inquest.
The injured men, whose names are given above, were taken in a special car on the 10:20 train to the Lane Hospital in San Francisco.
Before leaving here, however, they were attended to by Drs. W. B. Smith and J. Key of Pinole.
All of those who were injured, with the exception of DEMELLO, were working on the ground floor of the building.
MISS MARY WOOD, the girl who was killed, has three brothers, who are foremen, working in the powder reservation.
They are Lester, Carl and Herbert.
The estimated damage is about $5,000.
Superintendent John J. Bermingham, Jr., says that the building will be rebuilt as soon as possible.
The name of the company is the California Powder Works Company, situated in Hercules, about one mile from Pinole, in Contra Costa County.

Oakland Tribune California 1903-07-09