Kingston, NY lightning strikes powder kegs, Jul 1893



Two Houses Wrecked at Kingston, the Inmates Badly Injured, and the Telephone System Disabled - Great Damage to Grain and Fruit Crops Along the Schuylkill Valley by a Hailstorm - The Stones Were the Size of a Hickory Nut, and Trains Were Delayed.

KINGSTON, July 5. - During a very severe thunder storm early this evening a powder house in Second Avenue, on the outskirts of the city, was struck by a bolt of lightning. A terrific explosion immediately followed and the powder house, which contained fifty kegs of blasting powder, was blown to atoms - fence rails, stones and bricks were scattered for half a mile.

A three-story brick tenement house about 100 feet from the powder house was badly wrecked by the explosion, and the inmates, who were Poles, were all injured by the falling of the walls and flying glass. Anthony Prusack occupied the second floor with his wife and four small children. John Conaway, with a wife and a number of small children, lived on the third floor. The concussion split the roof from end to end, doors were blown from their hinges, windows were shattered, and the walls throughout the house fell.

The family on the second floor were sitting in the fornt room when the lightning struck the powder house. Prusack's eldest son, who was the least injured, said immediately after the shock that the windows broke and a gust of wind like a tornado rushed through the house. Every one was thrown to the floor by the shock and several were rendered motionless for a short time.

Crowds of people rushed to the scene and the bleeding people were taken to Patrick Clancey's saloon, where Drs. Stern and Crispell dressed the wounds. Mrs. Prusack, who was the most seriously wounded, had a cut on her head several inches long, from which a large piece of glass, which had penetrated to the skull, was extracted. Her baby, in a cradle, was badly cut about the body. All suffered so from the shock that they could not speak for some time.

A house on the hill back of the powder house, occupied by George Sewolski, was badly wrecked. He was uninjured, but his wife and children suffered greatly from cuts and bruises.

The shock sounded like the report of a cannon and shook every building in the city. Windows were shattered and chimneys fell. People rushed from their houses with blanched faces asking each other what had been struck. Every one was terribly excited, and when the news in exaggerated form reached the city that several lives had been lost by the explosion of the powder house hundreds rushed to the scene. The telephone system throughout the city was disabled and the electric lights were extinguished.

During the shower, which was the severest ever known here, the rain fell in torrents.

The powder house, which was a low brick building, belonged to the Sohaghticoke Powder Company of Buffalo, which is a branch of Laflin & Rand. Van Deusen & Co. of this city are that company's agents. The tenement house belonged to John Hutton of this city.

The New York Times, New York, NY 6 Jul 1893