Elyria, OH Factory Gas Explosion, Nov 1929

FIVE KILLED BY GAS EXPLOSION.

Elyria, Nov. 9 (INS) -- Five workmen were killed and four seriously injured when a gas explosion damaged the plant of the Timm Spring Company, here this morning.
The blast occurred shortly after 7:00 a.m. as the workmen were entering the plant.
Only one of the dead men is identified so far. He is JOHN RAPLE, aged 21, a workman.
All of the bodies of the dead men were horribly mangled, making immediate identification difficult.
The blast is believed to have resulted when one of the workmen lighted a cigarette.
The shock of the explosion was felt all over the city. Scores of window panes crumbled. Several homes nearby the Timm plant caught on fire.
All available men of the police and fire departments were rushed to the scene of the explosion. Scores of volunteers aided in getting the situation under hand.
The Timm plant employs fifty men. Because of the early hour, many had not arrived at the building. Had the blast occurred a few minutes later, the loss of life would undoubtedly have been greater.
Damages caused by the blast were estimated at $100,000.
Three of the dead had been identified by 11:00 a.m. They are:
MICHAEL SWETZ, aged 24.
JOHN RAPLE, aged 38.
LOUIS BUTCHER, aged 40.
BUTCHER is the father of seven children.
The two other dead are believed to be WALTER H. SIMPSON and WALTER KEYES.
The injured are:
MRS. MARGARET OLTMAN, whose condition is extremely critical.
MARY DOWNS.
MYRON SAUSLER.
SAM HUSTON, foremen of the plant.
AUGUST GREMMEL.

The Van Wert Daily Bulletin Ohio 1929-11-09

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CORONER'S JURY OPENS PROBE OF FIRE DISASTER.

INVESTIGATION FOLLOWS FIRE AT ELYRIA KILLING SIX IN GAS EXPLOSION.

MATCH CAUSES EXPLOSION -- FOREMAN YELLS WARNING WHEN HE SMELLS FUMES; THEN LOSES CONSCIOUSNESS.

Elyria, O., Nov. 9 -- (AP) -- A coroner's jury Saturday night probed the flame seared wreckage of the Timms Spring Co. plant opening an investigation into the gas explosion today which brought death to five men, probably fatally injured one woman, seriously burned four other persons and shattered with one mighty blow an entire building.
The deafening roar of ignited gas and great sheets of flame shooting more than 100 feet above the roof of the building was the only warning residents of the district had of the disaster.
By the time the first persons reached the scene, the building was in shambles and crumbling wreckage was burying the victims in a flaming pyre.
Rescue squads of police, firemen and a national guard detachment were quickly formed and men risked sudden death beneath falling timbers and twisted iron girders to drag the injured and dead from the ruins.
The dead:
W. H. SIMPSON, 36.
LOUIS BUTCHER, 40.
JOHN RAPLE, 38.
MIKE SWETZ, 50.
LOUIS KEYES, 28.
MRS. MARGARET OLTMAN, 45, of South Amherst, was said to be fatally injured by attending physicians and little hope was held for her recovery.
The other persons less critically injured are:
MARY DOWNS, 22.
SAM HUSTED, 45, plant foreman.
MYRON SASSLER, 22.
AUGUSTUS GENNELL, 52, of Sullivan, O.
The blast rent the building when a workman entered a gas-filled room and struck a match to light a cigaret.
The injured foreman, HUSTED, told the only eye witness story of the disaster.
Lying on his cot in a hospital here, HUSTED whispered thru seared lips the tale of those fateful few seconds which followed his entrance and a number of other workmen into the room near the boilers which smelled strongly of gas.
"I called out to the men who were following me," HUSTED said, "as soon as I smelled the gas and warned them not to light any matches. But the words had scarcely left my lips when a workman, I can't remember who he was, stepped into the room with a cigaret."
"I fairly screamed at him but it was too late. The moment the match ignited there was a blinding flash of flame, a crack and roar and the walls of the building seemed to heave upwards and outwards. That is the last I remember."
Coroner Myles Perry summoned his jury late today and began his investigation. HUSTED said that a new high pressure gas main had been laid to the boilers yesterday. Perry said he would start his investigation on the theory that there was a leak in the new main.
Damage to the plant, tools and equipment was estimated at more than $100,000.
A score of doctors and nurses followed the Elyria fire department to the scene of the blaze and established first aid camps.

The Lima News Ohio 1929-11-10