Chicago, IL Fireworks Explosion, Mar 1921
This material was stored in the South Halsted Street place, the police say. Some of it was still there tonight. This morning, about 10 o'clock, business was going on as usual at the SINGER-SCHAFFER store and at the paper house of Joseph Weil & Sons, next door to the north. Suddenly there came a small report, as though from a giant cracker. Then the wooden warehouse disintegrated in a mighty blast that tore adjoining buildings to pieces, hurled broken bits of brick and wood and twisted metal for hundreds of yards and smashed windows in the surrounding neighborhood for half a mile.
A mass of flames and wreckage shot a hundred feet into the air. It was followed by a dense pillar of black smoke that mushroomed as it rose, and then, falling, spread like a pall over the surrounding district.
A small blaze springing up from the ruins was quickly extinguished. Then began the search for bodies. The body of HARRY WELLS, a truck driver, battered to an almost unrecognizable mass, was the first one found. Then the other bodies were recovered.
The known dead in the explosion are:
MIKE GAPINSKI, 32 years old, chauffeur for the Chicago Motor Transfer Company.
ABE GOLDMAN, also known as L. NITTENICK, the name he used in the army, clerk for Singer & Schaffer.
EMANUEL GREEN, 18 years old, clerk for Singer & Schaffer.
RALPH KATZ, 18 years old, clerk for Singer & Schaffer.
ISADORE WAFFNER, clerk for Singer & Schaffer.
HARRY WELLS, 55 years old, teamster for Edward J. Mayer & Co., who was delivering powder when the explosion occurred.
A right hand, probably that of a woman, with a bandage on the third finger, was found in the wreckage.
The foot of a woman or boy was also discovered.
Chief of Police Fitzmorris and others began an immediate investigation of the explosion. By midnight all had settled on the theory of a fireworks or gunpowder explosion as the cause.
According to the testimony of employes of Singer & Schaffer, two tons of fireworks were received at the store on March 20. Presumably this supply furnished the basis of the explosion.
The New York Times New York 1921-03-30