Richmond, IN Gas Explosion, Apr 1968

Richmond, IN Explosion, Apr 1968

Charles Wright, assistant administrator of the hospital, said the emergency room had received about 50 injured who would be held for treatment. He said more than 50 others had been given emergency aid and released.

The blast broke out windows more than three blocks away and was heard more than a mile away.

At the request of city officials, the FBI dispatched its disaster squad from Washington, D.C., to assist in identification of Richmond blast victims.

The Richmond explosion was similar to a blast Feb. 26 in a Columbus, Ind., sporting goods store that killed one man and injured two others.

Police said a gun accidentally discharged in the Thompson Sporting Goods Store in Columbus, struck shotgun shell primers and touched off a blast and fire. Killed was a customer, Alva Bower, 49, Rt. 2, Westport.

The Kokomo Tribune Indiana 1968-04-07


39 Bodies Recovered From Blast-Torn Richmond; 33 Other Persons Missing

RICHMOND, Ind. (AP) – Searchers found three more bodies today in the rubble of Richmond's business district hit by explosions and fire during a busy shopping day, state police said, raising the known death toll to 42.
Only 25 bodies have been identified and state police still list 21 persons missing.

RICHMOND, Ind. (AP) – Thirty-nine bodies had been recovered from a blast-torn section of downtown Richmond today as weary searchers resumed tugging at shattered buildings for evidence of 33 other persons reported missing.
The explosion rocked the heart of the city Saturday as hundreds of shoppers crowded stores and streets. Fire triggered by the blast spread to adjacent buildings and wreckage was in a two-block section.

More than 100 persons were injured. Eighteen remained hospitalized today, three in critical condition.

State police said the blast erupted in the basement of Marting Arms Co. sporting goods store where gunpowder was stored for reloading ammunition for hunters and skeet shooters. Richmond Fire Marshal Fred Klotz said a large shipment of gunpowder reportedly was delivered to the store recently.

FBI agents said they were investigating the possibility of a gas leak being a factor in the explosion.

“It seemed like somebody pulled the whole world out from under me,” said Leo Collins, who was walking near the Marting store. A paint store employe, Collins was knocked down but escaped injury.

Capt. Kenneth E. Paust of the Indiana National Guard said the ceiling of a restaurant where he was having lunch began falling on customers.

“I ran into the street and saw an injured woman atop Sergent's Paint Store,” Paust said. “I got a ladder and with the aid of others got her down. She said she had been blown onto the roof by the explosion.”


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The Richmond Gas Explosion 1968

Many people survived this horrific accident I was but a lad, my father was a local gunsmith, my family had a picnic with the Marting's family the evening before the accident they had two daughters one of which was a year or two younger than myself. That evening I listened as my father scolded Mr. Marting's for not following the safety procedures when dealing with "Black Powder" as he had recently purchased a very large amount of the stuff! I do mean a large amount 100 50pound bags of it. Mr Marting was trying to get my dad and I to come down to the Marting's Arms store, dad said "You are supposed to only a small amount of the (Black Powder)and it is supposed to be kept in a static proof metal vault!" And I will never come into your shop as long as you have that much (Black Powder) on hands its a death trap!" When mr Marting's replied that the price was to good to be true, my dad replied "You can't spend it if you blow your and your family to hell in the process! The whole thing pissed my dad off! He said that he was going to call a friend of theirs on the following Monday with the FBI. Note* The 50lb.bags supposedly had been laying up against the back wall that was to the south. I myself didn't think anymore until the next day I mean I was a teenager, it was frightening but it was none of my business. The next day my Mom and I were downtown and walking by the Holthouse Furniture, when the first explosion took place, shortly there after there was what seemed like a barrage of explosions and even some gunfire, the only thing that I can compare it to is a combat zone. Back then none of us had ever heard of PTSD But I saw way more blood that day than I have ever seen again, my Mother went to her grave having repeated nighmares about that day nearly the rest of her life. I'm 61 now and this is the first that I've ever really spoken of it.
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