St. Louis, MO Gasometer Explosion, May 1885



St. Louis, May 20. -- There was a terrific explosion of a gasometer at the St. Louis Gas Works today, two men being instantly killed and another badly injured. The men who were killed were JOHN BURNS, a mechanic, and TOM DORAN, his assistant. BURN'S head was torn from his body, and when found was about eight feet distant from the trunk. It was frightfully disfigured. The right eye, which was missing, was afterward found hanging to a fragment of sheet iron. His right arm was broken at the elbow and bent backward around his waist. The upper half of his body was crushed, bruised, and discolored. DORAN'S skull was crushed in on the right side, and his features were almost unrecognizable. Death must have been instantaneous in both cases. DORAN was 23 years old and single. THOMAS KILLIAN, a plumber and gas fitter, who was working on the outside of the meter when the accident occurred, was picked up insensible 10 feet from the building. He was not so badly injured but that he will recover. KILLIAN says:
"I think the explosion was entirely the result of BURNS getting too close to the meter. You see we had turned on the steam, and had an escape pipe running through the roof, but when BURNS leaned over the light of the candle must have struck the gas somewhere. There is escaping gas around there all the time, and I guess it communicates with the inside of the meter in some way. I don't think the gas people are to blame in any way, as Superintendent LANDSDEN told BURNS particularly to be very careful and not get too close to the meter with his candle. I had no possible chance of getting out of the way or I would not have been hurt. If I could have gotten between the meters I would have been all right. As it is I am mighty thankful I am not in poor BURNS'S place."

The New York Times New York 1885-05-21