Delawanna, NJ Perfume Plant Fire and Explosion, Aug 1925


PASSAIC, N. J., Aug. 27 — Twelve men were overcome and more than a score of others were severely affected by chlorine gas which escaped when fire broke out at noon today in the chlorination shed of the Burton T. Bush Company at Delawanna. Those most seriously gassed were rushed in automobiles to St. Mary's Hospital, Passaic.

Although the men were still in the hospital this evening, none was considered to be in a dangerous condition. W. Hewitt, who was in charge of the chlorination room, was the only man on the spot when the fire broke out. He was seen running from the building and is being sought by officers of the company. He had been employed only a short time. The chlorination building is a frame structure directly behind the main brick building of the factory, which manufactures essential oils for perfumes. It contained three large vats filled with chlorine. When the fire started, from a cause that could not be determined, the factory whistle blew the fire alarm and more than fifty employees began fighting the fire with sand and chemicals. One of the vats exploded, shattering the windows of the two factory buildings and of neat residences. Groups of workmen without masks entered the building, which was flooded with the greenish-yellow acrid gas and tried to shut off the flow of chlorine from small valves on each tank. The gas choked them into helplessness and other workmen rushed in and rescued them. The rescuers emerged from the gagging fumes almost as helpless as the men they helped, and all were hurried to the hospital. Dr. Robert MacGuffie, a war veteran, who supervised their treatment, said the men showed the same symptoms as soldiers gassed In France. Chlorine is the gas which the Germans first used in the war.

After those overcome had been pulled out, gas masks were obtained and workmen entered the building and shut off the valves. The fire did very little damage. Dr. George A. Geiger. manager of the plant, was slightly affected. He said he believed the fire had started from the gas burners under the stills.

Those taken to St. Mary's Hospital are: Adam Wolf of 108 Rutherford Boulevard, Delawanna; Louis Fibrush, 2 Jefferson Street, Passaic; Berton Menneghan, 314 Delawanna Avenue, Delawanna; Alfred Stirch, 134 Fern Avenue, Lyndhurst; Martin Schippens, 82 Richards Street, Passaic; Rodger Fanten, 134 River Drive, Passaic; George Vera, 28G Rutherford Boulevard, Delawanna; Louis Carlo, 193 Wessington Avenue. Garfield; William Green, 200 River Drive, Passaic; Leni Furlan, Williams Street, Delawanna; Stephen Quack, 9 Cambridge Avenue, Garfield, and Charles Goodrich, 123 Passaic Street Passaic.

Aug. 28, 1925 edition of "The New York Times"