Penn Yan, NY Gas Boiler Explosion, Mar 1949

Gas Explosion Injures Plumber

Methodist Church Slightly Damaged

Lew Blakeslee of 231 Lake street, Penn Yan, was seriously injured at 11 a. m. Friday, March 18, in a gas boiler explosion.

Burned badly about the face, hands and arms, he was given emergency treatment at the Foster-Hatch Medical group by Dr. John L. Shultz and was taken to the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial hospital, where his condition is reported as fair. His attending physician is Dr. Glenn Hatch. At press time Mr. Blakeslee's condition was reported as "fair, but improved."

The explosion occurred in the basement of the First Methodist church, corner of main and Chapel streets. Mr. Blakeslee and William Coates were working on part of the church heating equipment, putting on a new shut-off valve. Gas apparently leaked into the boiler and was ignited by the pilot light as Mr. Blakeslee opened the door, exploding and burning Mr. Blakeslee severely. Mr. Coates was not injured. The boiler, located in the church basement below the auditorium was only slightly damaged.
Dust Fills Auditorium

The shock of the "puff" was so great however, that the Rev. Don Boyd, at work in the church officve [sic], felt as if he were lifted from his chair and dropped back. The whole church was filled with clouds of dust so that the custodian, Louis Smith, had to do a thorough job of housecleaning which he had already done once---to get the auditorium ready for the Boston University Glee Clubs concert Saturday evening.

The jar to the building also disarranged the mechanism of the big pipe organ so that when Mrs. Lester Bascom started playing Sunday morning some of the stops stuck and notes played which she never intended to sound at all.

Mr. Blakeslee and his son Raymond, own and operate a plumbing and heating equipment establishment on Main street in Penn Yan. On Feb. 7 their place of business and certain equipment were damaged by fire, smoke and water when the Frank Quenan laundry next door was gutted by by fire.

Chronicle Express, Penn Yan, NY 24 Mar 1949