Fort Madison, IA Explosion and Fire, Apr 1892


Escape Cut Off by a Powder Explosion That Wrecked the Building.

Shortly after midnight a terrific explosion startled Fort Madison, Iowa, and it was discovered that the frame building occupied as a meat market on the ground floor and as a dwelling above was shattered and in flames. The fire department was quickly at the scene, but so rapidly did the flames spread that nothing could be done. When it was discovered that nine people were imprisoned in the burning ruins the excitement became intense, but the greatest efforts of the firemen could do no good. Two of the victims, SAMUEL KITCHEN and HENRY MELMEYER, got out of the building, but in such horrible condition that they soon died.

The bodies of MRS. KITCHEN, MISS DAY, and the baby were so tightly clasped in each other's arms that they were separated with difficulty. It is thought the fire was the work of an incendiary, and the explosion came from a keg of powder in the lower story. The explosion wrecked the stairways and prevented escape.

The victims were:
S. V. KITCHEN, aged thirty-five; MRS. S. V. KITCHEN, thirty; SAMUEL KITCHEN, twenty; three children, aged two, three and five; MRS. SYDNEY DAY, aged eighteen, AUGUST MELMEYER, boarder, aged eighteen; HENRY MELMEYER, boarder, aged eighteen.

The Cranbury Press New Jersey 1892-04-15