Richmond, IN Gas Explosion, Apr 1968

Richmond, IN Explosion, Apr 1968

Paust said people helped clear bricks and debris to get to the injured.

“There was no concern among the helpers for their own safety, even after one of them was injured slightly by exploding ammunition,” he said.

“There seemed to be little panic. There were just too many acts of heroism to cite any one as outstanding.”

Only a crater remained where the sporting goods store stood at the corner of Sixth and Main Streets. Neighboring buildings were torn apart. Flames damaged other buildings.

Three buildings were destroyed, five damaged severely. Windows were shattered for blocks around.

Some of the dead and injured were trapped in cars crushed by the blast and falling debris. Once car was hurled 50 feet. Officials said more than 150 vehicles were demolished.

Several hundred volunteers joined police, firemen and National Guardsmen searching the rubble. Many of the dead were burned or mutilated beyond recognition. Bodies were placed in plastic bags and taken to the temporary morgue in the armory of this city of 44,000 on the Ohio border.

An FBI disaster squad worked on identifications, taking fingerprints, noting scars and unusual body marks. Dentists made detailed diagrams of missing teeth, fillings and malformations.

There were more volunteers to aid in searching than officials could accommodate. At Earlham College outside the city 700 students offered to help.

“We just don't have enough for that many people to do,” an official said.

Two Earlham students did help. David White, a junior from New York City, worked Saturday until midnight, got six hours sleep and returned.

“I just couldn't see myself sitting around,” he said. “I knew if I came downtown they'd find something for me to do.”

“I know a little first aid,” said Heidi Earhart, Ithaca, N.Y., freshman. “They let me come to help while most of the other students had to stay at the college.”

The restaurant in which Capt. Paust was eating is half a block from the sporting goods store. “I thought somebody had thrown a bomb through the window,” said Mrs. Kathleen Chappel, restaurant operator.

Shattered glass was spewed through the cafe. “We got everybody – about 50 customers – out the back door, except for two women sitting in a booth, who were cut,” Mrs. Chappel said.

The Kokomo Tribune Indiana 1968-04-08


The Richmond, Indiana, explosion was a double explosion which occurred at 1:47 PM EST on Saturday, April 6, 1968, in downtown Richmond, Indiana. The explosions killed 41 people and injured more than 150. The primary explosion was due to natural gas leaking from one or more faulty transmission lines under the Marting Arms sporting goods store, located at the intersection of 6th and Main (US 40) streets. A secondary explosion was caused by gunpowder stored inside the building.



Slide Show on the Explosion



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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