Cleveland, OH Street Gas Explosion, Sep 1953


Cleveland, Sept. 10 (AP) -- A gas explosion under a three-quarter-mile long section of West 117th Street late Thursday killed a woman motorist and injured 67 persons in rush hour crowds, some seriously.
MRS. KATHERINE SZABO, 40, died in St. John's Hospital of injuries received when she was pinned in a concrete-crushed automobile.
Flying concrete and popping manhole covers caused injuries that sent 37 other motorists or pedestrians to St. John's Hospital, 17 to Lakewood Hospital and 13 more to three other hospitals.
Fire Chief Elmer Cain said "many things underground were broken -- among them gas mains," but he would not pinpoint a cause for the blast which firemen at first said resulted from a broken natural gas main. An East Ohio Gas Co. spokesman said he was convinced sewer gas and not gas from his company's lines set off the explosion.
Damage is expected to mount above one million dollars.
Mark C. Schinnerer, Cleveland superintendent of schools, was one of those who narrowly escaped injury.
"You thought at once this was the atomic bomb," Schinnerer said. "The noise was terrific, thick, thick, black smoke suddenly blotted out everything, and flying debris crashed all around. It seemed as if you were suddenly out of this world."

Hutchinson News-Herald Kansas 1953-09-11