Ardmore, OK Gasoline Explosion, Sept 1915 - 47 Known Dead

Known Dead Reaches 47; City To File Charges Against The Santa Fe Railroad Officials

Relief Fund Rapidly Subscribed to at Public Meeting; Still Searching Debris; Without Gas for Fuel


Ardmore, Sept. 28.-The death list tonight was increased to forty-seven by the death of OTTO MCCLUNG, fifteen years old, of Ardmore, a messenger boy, and the finding of the bodies of two negroes, neither of which could be identified.

Ardmore, Sept. 29.-Preceedings to fix the responsibility for the disaster of yesterday in which a tank car explosion caused the death of forty-seven persons, injuries to more than a hundred others and fire loss of probably five hundred thousand dollars were started today by the municipal authorities who charge Santa Fe railroad officials with criminal negligence. This was the announcement tonight of Russell Brown, city attorney of Ardmore.

The death list tonight stood at forty-four, according to the statement from police headquarters. Early official statements had placed the number of victims at fifty-five. The discrepancy was explained tonight by the fact that several persons previously reported dead were found either in hospitals or in their homes alive, after a close police check with the physicians of the city and hospitals.

Henshaw Investigates.

The announcement as to contemplated charges against the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe railway came as a result of an almost continuous all-day session of the Ardmore city commission which has sought since yesterday's disaster to place blame for the catastrophe. The city attorney said tonight the Santa Fe officials would be charged with failure on the part of the railroad company to comply with the regulations of the interstate commerce commission respecting the loading and handling of gasoline.

Oklahoma State Corporation Commissioner George A. Henshaw has been in the city most of today in conference with local authorities. Henshaw would not comment on the case. When the proposed proceedings are filed, it is understood, they will be made through the Oklahoma corporation commission's office to the federal government.

What City Will Allege.

The city officials, it is said, will allege that the railroad company should have left the "bad order" car in which the gasoline was contained at some isolated siding, according to the interstate commission regulations; that the railroad company failed to do so after it had been learned by City Commissioner W.C. Dewitt that the car was leaking; that the railroad company failed to deliver the car to the Ardmore Refining company, the consignee, after it had been urged to do so, and further that the railroad's failure to comply with these requests after it was discovered that the tank was leaking, necessitated the action of the Ardmore Refining company in sending a man to repair the leak, which resulted in the explosion and the loss of at least 44 lives.

Rings, watches, cards and jewelry have served as a means of identification of a number of the dead. The body of J.R. WOOD, tank inspector, was only recognizable through a ring on his finger. In the same way the body of a man who remained unidentified for 24 hours was found to be POOLE A. WALL of Haskell, Texas. WALL had in his pocket a postcard addressed to himself and cards from a hotel in Bristol, Okla. He was taken from the ruins of the Pennington building.

Ten Funerals Tuesday.

Undertakers, physicians and surgeons, and ministers of the gospel have been called from other places to act at funerals. Funerals of ten victims were held today. Two bodies were sent to former residences and once the hearse went to the potter's field.

The Chamber of Commerce conducted a meeting this afternoon for alleviation of conditions here. Contributions amounting to more than $3,000 were offered during the 15-minute session. A resolution was adopted asking the state fire marshal to conduct an official investigation of the disaster.

The work of the relief committee has commenced. S. Poulter Morris, director of the American Red Cross of Denver is en route to Ardmore, according to local reports, to assist in relief work.

A committee of local architects has condemned a number of the damaged buildings which are still standing, although mere shells. These buildings, it is announced, will be torn down and rebuilt.

Daily Tulsa World, Tulsa, OK 29 Sept 1915