Kearny, NJ Plant Explosion, Aug 1943
3 KILLED, 15 HURT AND 49 MISSING IN TERRIFIC BLAST.
EXPLOSION AND FIRE, BELIEVED CAUSED BY CORK AND LINOLEUM DUST, DESTROY THREE BUILDINGS OF HUGE CONGOLEUM-NAIRN PLANT IN NEW JERSEY.
Kearny, N. J., Aug. 19 (AP) -- An explosion and fire destroyed three buildings of the huge Congoleum-Nairn, Inc., plant here tonight, leaving a toll of three known dead and 15 injured, eight critically.
A company spokesman said eight others were missing. Fire Chief CHARLES BURNETT of Newark estimated that the number of missing would total 49.
JAMES MINNIS, 43, of North Arlington.
JAMES GAJESBY, of North Arlington.
EDWARD McENTENY, 60, of Harrison, who died in West Hudson Hospital four hours after the explosion.
BURNETT said the destruction apparently resulted from an explosion of cork and linoleum dust in the No. 12 building which created a blast "more teriffic than dynamite."
Rescue workers dug for the missing under the wreckage of two buildings after firemen fromm four municipalities and two fireboats on the adjacent Passaic river fought the blazing ruins. The third building was ignited by flames from the other two.
BURNETT said steamshovels would be brought into use in the search through the debris.
At West Hudson Hospital, seven workers were admitted with critical injuries and three others whose injuries were less severe were treated and allowed to go home.
One of the latter, ANDREW MacARTHUR, 41, a machinist who was at work in an adjoining building when the explosion occurred, told of being knocked off his feet by the force of the blast.
"It was like a vacuum," said MacARTHUR, "and all of a sudden there was a teriffic explosion. Debris fell all around me, then someone picked me up and put me in an ambulance."
MacARTHUR suffered a severe cut on his right arm from a piece of flying glass.
He said the explosion occurred between shifts when many of the buildings were only partly occupied. A half hour later there would have been 300 men at work in the No. 12 building, he added.
Another of the less seriously injured, ARTHUR CARTER, who had been standing in a doorway of the building, said, "all I know, there was a tremendous explosion and the whole damn building fell down on us."
Federal Bureau of Investigation agents shut off streets surrounding the sprawling plant and barred newsmen and spectators from the scene.
Many windows in the area, including large, plate glass store fronts were shattered by the explosion.
The Congeleum-Nairn company is one of the world's largest producers of linoleum products and had been working on war orders.
Frederick Post Maryland 1943-08-20
KEARNY BLAST TOLL NOW 11.
AT LEAST ONE MORE IS MISSING AT SCENE OF JERSEY EXPLOSION.
Kearney, N. J., Aug. 21. (AP) -- Heavy construction equipment was moved today to the jumble of wreckage that was once building No. 12 of the Congoleum-Narin, Inc., plant, and workmen prepared to move huge chunks of concrete in a search for bodies of war workers believed to still be buried in the rubble.
Crews removed six bodies yesterday and one early today, bringing to eleven the death toll of Thursday nights explosion which flattened the large three story building as completely as if a block buster bomb had struck it.
At least one person was missing, a company spokesman said. Nine were injured and removed to hospitals after the blast, which was felt over a ten mile area.
The body of ANTHONY DiMOMENICO, 45, of Garfield, was recovered early this morning police said.
A skeleton crew of firemen was still on duty at the Passiac Avenue plant, although the flames which gutted a building adjacent to the shattered structure had been extinguished. Smoke still trickled from smouldering cork, and the odor of burnt linoleum, cork and shellac hung over the area.
The odor was reminiscent of toxic gases generated by the three articles when they burned, overcoming several firemen and forcing many others to temporarily halt their battle against the flames.
Also on hand were police to attempt to identify any victims found. Yesterday they identified the bodies taken from the heaps of wreckage as:
PIETRO VERRENGIA, 48, Newark.
LEO J. KALINOWSKY, 31, Newark.
THOMAS ERTLE, 45, Kearny.
MRS. EDNA LAND, 43, Lydhurst.
CHARLES P. KATSACOULAS, 25, North Arlington.
DENNIS McGINNIS, 42, Kearny.
FRED PURVIN, 16 year old Kearny High School student who took a summer job in the plant, died in West Hudson Hospital of burns.
Three other dead were identified shortly after the explosion.
JAMES MINNIS, 43, North Arlington.
EDWARD McENTEVY, 62, Harrison.
JAMES GOJESBY, 45, North Arlington.
Indiana Evening Gazette Pennsylvania 1943-08-21