Hammond, IN Warehouse Explosion, Dec 1963
BLAST RIPS HAMMOND PLANT.
FIREMAN DIES; 19 INJURED.
Hammond, Ind. (UPI) -- An explosion described as "something like an atomic bomb" roared through a huge burning warehouse storing anti-freeze early today. One fireman was killed and 19 persons were injured.
For a time it was feared several firemen might have been caughtin the flaming debris but all were accounted for.
The firemen were pouring water on the Illinois Transit Warehouse when the pre-dawn explosion blasted the building and collapsed a section of it. The explosion was heard for miles.
"The impace was something like an atomic bomb," Policeman GEORGE MAGUNARY said.
"It mushroomed out and was followed by a suction."
One fireman was knocked about 20 feet. A newsman, Gene Langle of Station WJOB, said he was knocked to the ground, and when he came to his senses he ran to a police car and shouted in the radio, "There's been a terrible explosion here. Send all the help you can."
The injured were taken to St. Margaret Hospital. All were firemen except one, RICHARD WYLIE, a Chicago Sun-Times photographer. Aides said seven of them were treated. Most suffered from smoke inhalation and cuts.
The dead man was identified as Fire Pvt. FRANCIS VOLK. He was standing by an engine and was killed outright by a flying object.
The rig had pulled between the burning warehouse and an adjacent building and it was showered with flying debris. It was because of this that officials feared for some time that firemen might have been trapped under the rubble.
The hospitalized were identified as PAUL KOCHIS, ROBERT ALEXANDERSON, FRED VAHST, ROBERT JENS, FRED SMOLEN, JACK WILSON, Asst. Chief JOHN NOVALICH, MICHAEL SANDERS and FRED KOCOL.
The fire was brought under control about 8:30 a.m. EST.
An official of the firm said the warehouse, a one-story building of steel and corrugated metal construction, contained an undetermined quantity of anti-freeze and soap. The official said he had not idea what caused the explosion or what the damaged would amount to.
Logansport Pharos-Tribune Indiana 1963-12-23