Buffalo, NY Kelker Blower Company Explosion, Jan 1916

Several Are Missing Following Buffalo Explosion


Believe Gas, Used in Welding Department of Blower Plant, Was Responsible for Accident

By Associated Press
Buffalo, N. Y. Jan. 24 – Four persons are known to have been killed, several are missing and four were injured in a explosion late today that wrecked the plant of the Kelker Blower company, manufacturers of planing mill exhausts and ventilators, on Harrison street.

CHARLES KELKER, head of the firm said that from 22 to 25 employes were in the plant and that 21 of them had been accounted for.

The known dead are: MISS MABEL CHANDLER, 17 years old, stenographer; CHARLES PABST, 18 years old, teamster; two unidentified men.

The injured are: MRS. HELEN KELKER, 45 years old, wife of CHARLES KELKER, both legs blown off, probably will die; ELMER WILLIAM, 16 years old, cut and bruised; JAMES KEMMER, 46 years old, ear torn off, scalp wounds; STANLEY KONIECZNY, 21 years old, chest crushed; will recover.

Fire Follows Explosion.
The building occupied by the firm was a long two-story frame structure, the first floor and basement of which were used for the machine shop, and the second floor as a storeroom and living apartments. The explosion demolished all the walls, letting the roof down on the ruins, which caught fire. Pieces of the foundation were thrown hundreds of feet and the concussion smashed nearly every window glass within the radius of a block.

Within 3 feet of the Kelker plant is one of the largest East Side grammar schools. About fifteen hundred boys and girls were thrown into a temporary panic, but the teachers quickly marched them to the street.

Blown Through Door
CHARLES KELKER and his two sons, JOHN and ALBERT J., were in the machine shop when the explosion occurred. One of the boys was blown through an open door, while the others were taken from the wreckage. All escaped with a few bruises.

MR. KELKER was uncertain as to the cause of the explosion. Gas was used in several forms in the welding department and was kept in retainers in the basement. He estimated the financial loss at $50,000.

The flames were extinguished in less than an hour and firemen began searching the ruins. At nightfall only two bodies had been taken out but two others could be seen under piles of broken machinery.

Gazette and Bulletin, Williamsport, PA 25 Jan 1916