Chicago, IL Printing Plant Explosion, Sep 1969


Chicago (AP) -- Vapor from highly volatile ink was tentatively named the cause of the explosion which killed four persons and injured more than 40 others in the huge R. R. Donnelley and Sons printing plant Wednesday, police said.
The blast knocked out windows, caved in part of the floor and tore holes in the walls of the plant. Four one-ton rolls of paper were among the debris blown into a nearby street.
At the time of the blast about 100 persons were working in the plant, which is among the world's largest commercial printing operations.
The block-square brick bruilding is one of several in the Donnelley complex about two miles south of the downtown district.
An investigator from the police bomb and arson unit said a spark, apparently from one of the printing presses, may have ignited the vapor from ink being used for a special magazine insert. He added that Wednesday's high humidity increased the danger of explosion by holding down the vapors.
Among the national magazines printed at the plant are Look, Life, Time, Sports Illustrated and The New Yorker.
The firm also prints telephone directories for a number of cities. Company officials said a computer system which automatically records changes in the Chicago Telephone Directory was affected by the explosion.
Until the damage is repaired, printing operations will be shifted to other buildings.
Fire department officials estimated the damage at $100,000.
The dead were identified as:
SHERMAN WINTERS, 41, of Chicago.
BERNICE NELSON, 45, of Chicago.
LAWRENCE MARTINS, 22, of Chicago.
VESTILLA CORNELL, 51, of Gary, Ind.
Twenty-six injured were taken to four nearby hospitals. Some 20 others were treated in the plant infirmary.

Freeport Journal-Standard Illinois 1969-09-25


Donnelly fire

Michael F. Parmley died 2 weeks after fire at Michael Reese Hospital.



My grandfather died as a

My grandfather died as a result as well and he is not on your list. I believe the memorial book has 7 listed but I will have to find it to confirm.

Others died as a result of

Others died as a result of the explosion, besides the initial four - my father being one.

RRDonnelley Explosion - 1969

I was a Donnelley employee, walking north on the west side of Calumet Ave. at the time that explosion took place. I was walking under the windows on the Rotogravure Pressroom. Seeing this afternoon's coverage of the Boston Marathon explosion(s), I am brought back 44 year to a really scary time in my life. I remember a chaotic scene and was very grateful to see the Chicago Fire Department roll up and take over the handling of the incident. One or more of those rolls of paper, 3200 lbs on average, would have gone about 3 - 4 feet over my head and landed less than fifty feet way. My first thought was to get off the street and help the young lady about 75' from me. We got into the building across the street and my next thought was to call home and tell my wife I was okay. She called my mother and that part of the problem was solved. My thanks to the Chicago Fire Department, to God for preserving my life and allowing me continue my life. Also, my sympathies to all who were killed, injured, or lost loved ones in the Boston incident. May God bless us all and may God Bless the United States.