Braddock, PA Thompson Steel Works Explosion, Aug 1895


Workmen Killed by an Explosion in a Steel Works.


A Furnace at the Thompson Works in Braddock, Penn., Was Choked and Sixteen Men Were Engulfed in Flames of Exploding Gas – A Volcanic Eruption of Liquid Metal.

The fall of a “hang” in the top of furnace H of the Edgar Thompson Steel Works at Braddock, Penn., caused an explosion which resulted in the death of eight men. Eight other men received burns, and some of them were fatally injured.
The names of the killed are:
STEVE HAVRELA, cut in twain; 32 years old, leaves wife and two children.
JOSEPH TUCKAY, 38 years old, burned; leaves wife and four children.
JOSEPH COPP, burned; 32 years old, single.
JOHN MEKA, burned; 25 years old, single.
JOHN POOKOPOVEC, burned; 25 years old, single.
JOHN GRUCHA, burned; 30 years old, single.
All were Poles and Huns except GRUCHA, who was a German. Nine of the injured were brought to the Mercy Hospital in this city. They are reported to be resting easy.

The last two men died after being taken to the hospital. The explosion occurred at 5 o'clock a. m., when preparations were being made for the morning melt. The force of the rush of expanding gas was terrific, and frightened the entire town of Braddock. Hundreds of half clad men, women and children flocked to the mill to inquire the cause of the noise and the result. The majority were Hungarian and Polish women who live near the mill, and had husbands and brothers working at the furnaces. They crowded into the yards over railroad tracks which form a network about the row of furnaces and could not be forced back. They swarmed through the stock sheds, and soon the air was filled with dries and groans as the bodies were picked up and recognized.

The carelessness or ignorance of one of the top fillers, all of whom are Hungarians, caused the accident. The refuse material which forms a “hang” had been allowed to accumulate until its size obstructed the free passage of the gases generated in the melting of ore. One of the top fillers dumped a barrow full of stock into the furnace without raising the boil, and this obstructed the opening still more. The top of the furnace was practically closed, and a force of men was sent there at once to remove the material which closed up the top.

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