New York, NY Paper Hanging Manufactory Boiler Explosion, Feb 1870

Terrible Explosion in Thirty-third-Street.

A Boy Fatally Injured and Two Men Seriously Scalded – Great Destruction of Property – Statements of Losses and Insurances

About noon yesterday, Jacob TROUT, engineer of CHAMBERLAIN, ROE & Co., pork packers, at No. 517 West Thirty-third-street, was seated in his boiler room eating his lunch. This room is at the northeast corner of the building occupied by the firm, and is not more than five feet square, and contained nothing but a small tubular upright boiler. As TROUT sat in the corner of this contracted space furthest from the door leading to the engine house, he was suddenly startled by a terrible noise, and the next instant a mass of iron came tumbling through the roof, and, grazing the edge of the boiler on the side furthest from him, struck the floor, partly filling up the doorway. TROUT was for an instant paralyzed by the concussion of the air, but recovering his physical powers before he comprehended what had occurred, walked unharmed from the little room where he had escaped a terrible death in a manner as miraculous as it was almost un-precedent. The boiler of the paper-hanging factory of A. J. DECKER, situated in a small shed in the yard adjoining, had exploded, had risen high in the air, had struck and passed through the roof of Chamberlain, Roe & Co., and cleaved its way through the boiler room to alight at the feet of Jacob TROUT, leaving him unharmed.

Others who were in the vicinity at the moment of the catastrophe were not so fortunate. John DONNELLY, the engineer, who was in the boiler room, was scalded and burned, and a similar fate overtook George HUSSEY, another employe. (SIC) Both of these, however, escaped with whole bones and superficial hurts, and William WRIGHT, the young bookkeeper of the concern, was the chief victim of the disaster. The Twentieth Precinct Police, quickly on the ground under charge of Sergeant JAMES,, bore him from the ruins an almost lifeless mass of scalded, burned and mangled flesh, and conveyed him to the Mt. Sinai Hospital, where the surgeons declared that he could live but a few hours at furthest. HUSSEY was taken to Bellevue Hospital, and DONNELLY, after having his wounds dressed at the Station House, was conveyed to his home, No. 504 West Thirty-third-street, almost opposite the factory.

Meantime the explosion had scattered coals over this combustible establishment and the whole of the four-story brick building was a mass of flames. The firemen were quickly on the ground, but were powerless against a fire that had received such an impetus in the beginning. The house burned rapidly and was very soon a complete wreck, and the flames communicated to the four-story brick building, No. 513, adjoining on the east, occupied by Kunnel & Stuckenholz, dyers and bleachers, and by Jamen FITZSIMMONS as a laundry. This house was also entirely wrecked, and a portion of the east wall falling over upon the roof of the one-story brick house No. 511, which is unoccupied, did some slight damage to the building. The losses from the fire are as follows: DECKER, in stock, $10,000, on which there is insurance for $7,000 in the Merchants’ and Shoe and Leather companies, the latter of Boston. FITZSIMMONS lost $2,000 and is uninsured. Kunnel & Stuckenholz’s loss was not estimated, as the amount of stock they had on hand was not known. The buildings Nos. 515 and 513 were owned by Geo. W. Chapman, and the loss on them will be about $30,000, the first being wholly destroyed and the latter greatly damaged. The loss of Chamberlain, Roe & Co. is confined to the hole made in their roof by the descending boiler, and will not exceed $300, which is covered by insurance.

The cause of the disaster has not yet been definitely ascertained. The engineer was too much injured to give any account of the affair, but it was generally rumored around the scene of the calamity that at the moment of the explosion he was carrying sixty pounds of steam. The boiler was tested in August last, and was licensed to carry seventy pounds, so that he seems to have been close upon his maximum. The boiler was a small one of ordinary locomotive construction, and had been used for some time. There will be a thorough official investigation of the catastrophe.

The New York Times, New York, NY 15 Feb 1870


The Boiler Explosion Disaster – Death of One of the Victims.

William Wright, the young man who was hurled into the air and terribly scalded on Monday afternoon, by the explosion of a boiler in the paper hanging manufactory of A. J. DECKER, No. 815 West Thirty-third-street, died yesterday morning at the Mount Sinai Hospital from the injuries sustained. The Coroner’s office was at once notified and Coroner KEENAN gave permission for the removal of the remains from the hospital to the residence of his father, Sergeant WRIGHT, of the Nineteenth Precinct Police, at No. 213 East Thirty-sixth-street. Coroner FLYNN has assumed jurisdiction in the case, and will grant the necessary certification of death, after his jury has viewed the body. The examination of witnesses will not take place for several days, as the question regarding the cause of the explosion is an important one. The other victims of this terrible disaster, John DONNELLY and Geo. HUSSEY, now lying at No. 504 West Thirty-third-street, and Bellevue Hospital, are understood to be progressing favorably, though they are in a very critical condition.

The New York Times, New York, NY 16 Feb 1870