Philadelphia, PA Gas Tank Explosion, May 1905


Huge Gas Tank at Point Breeze Exploded Today.


Two of Them Cannot Live, it is Believed -- Bodies of Victims Badly Mangled.

By Publishers Press Direct Wire
Philadelphia, May 12 -- Without warning one of the huge tanks, No. 1, of the United Gas Improvement Company's plant at Point Breeze exploded shortly before 11 o'clock this morning.
Eight men were instantly killed and eleven others were injured, at least two of them being so badly burned and mangled that they cannot live. The big tank was completely wrecked and the effect of the terrific explosion was felt throughout the entire southern section of the city, windows being shattered and houses and factories severely shaken.
Of the score or more of men who were working in the immediate vicinity of the big tanks not one escaped injury.
One instant they were going quietly about their tasks and in another there came a small flash of fire. Then, with a mighty roar the immense steel tank, weighing hundreds of tons and containing thousands upon thousands of cubic feet of gas was rent asunder as if it were but pasteboard and the fragments sent hurling high in the air or driven with the force of cannon balls to each side.
Following this shower of rended steel fragments came a sheet of flame which enveloped everything within a radius of a hundred yards and caught those workmen who had escaped the first force of the explosion and rain of missiles. Many were first overcome by the escaped gas and then burned as they lay unconscious.
As soon as it was realized what had occurred fire alarms and ambulance calls were sent in from all sections of downtown and relief was hurried to the scene of the disaster.
By the time they arrived the fire had ceased to feed upon the escaped gas and all were enabled to turn their attention to the work of rescue. In every conceivable position and with all sorts of wounds and burns upon their bodies nineteen workmen were found stretched upon the ground.
Eight were found to be dead, with their bodies terribly mangled, and attention was turned to the others who yet showed signs of life. They were placed in ambulances and patrol wagons and hurried to St. Agnes Hospital where it was said that two, JOHN BOYD and OWEN BRADY, would surely die, they having been burned from head to feet and inhaled the fire.

The Trenton Times New Jersey 1905-05-12