Paterson, NJ Fireworks Explosion, June 1901



Paterson, N. J., June 22. -- So far as known there were 12 people killed and a number of others were injured in a fire following an explosion among a quantity of fireworks in the store of ABRAHAM M. RITTENBERG. The store was on the ground floor of a 4-story frame tenement building. The cause of the explosion is not known. The property loss is $35,000.
The following were killed:
MRS. CHARLES WILLIAMSON, burned while trying to rescue her husband.
CHARLES WILLIAMSON, helpless cripple, unable to leave bed.
HAROLD RITTENBERG, 10-months-old child of the keeper of the fireworks store.
WILLIE ELSASSER, six weeks old.
MRS. BERT BAMBER, whose husband is in the hospital.
JOHN BAMBER, 6-months-old child.
MRS. ANDREW ELVIN, head only found, trunk missing.
CLARENCE BURNS, six years old, found clasped in his mother's arms.
Total number of bodies recovered, 12.
The missing:
JOSEPH ELVIN, two weeks old, mother's head found.
Two Nephews of MRS. LANNIGAN, whose body has been found.
MRS. MARY ELSASSER, kept baker shop, child's body found.
The Injured Are:
J. JESSUP, bruised about the head and body and burned about the head.
MRS. J. JESSUP, bruised and burned about the body.
I. BAMBURGER, head and face bruised.
NICHOLAS HILLMAN, cut on head.
GEORGE SODER, cut on face.
Fireman EDWARD LINGLAND, injured by falling wall.
MR. and MRS. JOHN McGLONE, burned about face and body.
The building in which the explosion occurred was a frame tenement four stories high, with stores on the ground floor. The middle store was occupied by RITTENBERG. Ten families occupied flats in the building. So great was the force of the explosion that a boy playing in the street half a block away was lifted to his feet and hurled against an iron fence, one of his legs being broken. A trolley car was directly in front of the building when the explosion occurred. The burst of flame blown out into the street scorched the sides of the car and singed the hair of the passengers.
A number of those who were on the upper floors of the building when the explosion took place were either stunned or burned to death or found escape cut off and were suffocated. After the first explosion there was a succession of smaller ones, and then came a second big explosion, which was muffled and deadened, and probably occurred in the cellar.
Every window seemed to be spouting flames within a minute after the first explosion. A woman, her clothing on fire, leaped out of one of the windows and fell to the yard below. Her body was dragged out of reach of the flames, but the flesh was roasted and dropped from the bones. She later proved to be a MRS. WILLIAMS.
MRS. WILLIAMS' husband was a cripple. His wife is supposed to have remained longer than she could with safety in an effort to save him. He was found burned to a crisp on his bed.
Some of the occupants of the rooms dropped from the windows and were bruised. Others hung from the windows until the firemen came, and twenty persons were taken down in this way through the fire and smoke by the firemen, while others dropped into life nets.
RITTENBERG will probably be arrested pending an investigation. In the debris was found the head of a man or woman.

Sandusky Daily Star Ohio 1901-06-22