Perth Amboy, NJ Asphalt Plant Explosion, June 1949



Perth Amboy, N. J., June 24 (AP) -- Three men died -- two of them buried alive under flaming asphalt -- as a crackling series of explosions destroyed a $500,000 asphalt plant here yesterday.
The shrivelled, tar-covered bodies of two volunteer firemen could not be recovered for several hours after they were blown into a pit of boiling asphalt.
A third victim, a workman, died of burns later. Eight others were injured, two critically.
Black, greasy smoke rose hundreds of feet into the air over the ruined California Refinery Co. plant. It was visible as far away as Manhattan, 25 miles to the north.

Fire Spreads.
The first explosion let go at 2 p.m., and fire spread rapidly to adjoining stills and storage tanks. Then a 10,000 gallon asphalt tank blew 50 feet into the air, spewing its blazing contents.
Dead in the blast were Volunteer Firemen LAWRENCE DAMBACH, 50, father of four children, and HOWARD ADAMS, 36, who leaves a six-year-old son.
MICHAEL TONAWAY, 64, died of burns last night in Perth Amboy General hospital.

Lowell Sun Massachusetts 1949-06-24


perth amboy explosion 1949

I was in the explosion in 1949.I was one of only a few that lived.I was 16 years old at the time and had gone the asphalt plant to get a load of asphalt for my fathers road construction job.I am now 76 years old and still have medical problems.I was burned on 60 % of my body and still will have flashbacks of the event.Most of the other men had very little skin left on their bodies.I lost all the skin on my arms and legs.A baseball cap and sun glasses saved my eyes and face.I am still here and think about the day everytime I see June come around