West Plains, MO Dance Hall Explosion, Apr 1928
36 Killed, 18 Injured by Explosion and Fire
Seek More Bodies In Fiery Ruins
Nineteen Bodies Lying in One Morgue and 17 in Another.
Many Victims Blown Considerable Distance From Hall
West Plains, Mo., April 14 (UP) - The toll of dead in an explosion which wrecked a crowded dance hall here last night mounted to 36 today as rescue workers recovered bodies from the smouldering ruins of the structure.
Eighteen persons were injured, and property damage was estimated at $250,000.
Bodies of all of the 36 known dead were recovered. Nineteen rested today in one morgue and 17 in another. Officials in charge at the scene of the explosion said they feared more bodies might be found in the ruins.
40 Couples Dancing.
Thirty to 40 couples were dancing when the blast came. It was the regular Friday night dance of West Plains' younger set. Among the merry makers were many of the prominent young men and women of West Plains.
At 11:30 the dance was at its height. The three piece orchestra was nearing "Home Sweet Home," MISS DIMPLES MARTIN, at the piano was pounding out the strains of a popular melody -- nobody remembers the name.
At that moment J. N. WEISER, owner of the building, opened the back door of the garage on the floor below. A motorist had called him from his home to supply some gasoline. As the garage door swung open there was the thunder of a terrific explosion.
Floor Drops Into Flames.
The floor of the dance hall above was lifted almost to the ceiling. A moment of terrible silence followed. The the floor crashed in fragments into a raging gasoline fed furnace below. Into it went the forms of a score of humans who a moment before had been carefree dancers.
Some were blown through the windows and survived. Three or four were able to crawl away from the hungry flames to safety. Others were blown free of the ruins of the street below, cut and mangled, burned and bleeding.
The pianist was believed to have been killed instantly. BALL ALLEN, the trombone player who was sitting next to her, was blown through a window and lives. The third member of the orchestra is believed also to have perished.
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