Coopersburg, PA Gas Explosion, Feb 1973

Coopersburg blast kills 5

Broken gas line may be cause

COOPERSBURG, Pa. (AP) – Workmen installing a sewer may have disturbed a gas line causing an explosion which leveled an apartment building her, killing five persons and injuring 22 others, a gas company official reports.

RICHARD L. BUNN, vice-president of United Gas Improvement Company said gas company crews arrived at the site shortly after being notified by the workmen. Gas company personnel had begun evacuating the six-unit apartment building when the blast occurred Wednesday.

Two houses also were set afire and several other buildings had windows blown out and roofing, porch columns and rain spouts torn free.

Four of the dead lived in the apartment building. State Police identified them as MRS. THELMA HOFFHINES, 53; MRS. MARY JANE SACKS, 26; STEVEN GAUCHES, 3, and a 2-year-old girl, TERRY LAUB.

The body of the fifth victim, CHARLES URMY, 69, was recovered from his house, a two-story duplex that was completely gutted by fire.

It was next door to the apartment building in which 21 persons lived.

Coopersburg, a community of about 2,300 persons, is located about 10 miles south of Allentown.

The injured, many of them seriously hurt, were taken to four area hospitals. Two of the, JOSEPH MICHAEL, 25, of Allentown, and ORVIN COSSGROVE, 30, of nearby Coplay, were reported in critical condition by a spokesman at Allentown General Hospital.

The recovery operation began as soon as fires could be put under control following the noontime explosion. The last body – that of TERRY LAUB – was found at about 10:30 p. m. Wednesday.

The blast scattered debris over an area of several blocks, with toys, furniture, clothing and other articles strewn about and two blocks of buildings, including several homes, giving a stark appearance with their empty windows.

Heavy equipment and hundreds of police, firemen and volunteers moved in to begin the rescue efforts and to clean up the rubble and debris.

Delaware County Daily Times Chester, Pennsylvania 1973-02-22

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Gas odor back in Coopersburg

COOPERSBURG, Pa. (AP) – The smell of gas which lingered before an explosion ripped through an apartment house here killing five persons, returned today, forcing the evacuation of a factory, a school and two dozen homes.

A newsman in Coopersburg said about 100 workers at the Dale Footwear Co. and about 200 pupils at the Coopersburg Elementary School were moved out of the area, as were occupants of the homes.

The school and shoe factory are located within a two-block area of the leveled apartment building.

To odor of gas was still evident in the immediate vicinity of the blast site this morning, posing the possibility that rising winds may have wafted the smell into the area that was evacuated.

A gas company official reported Wednesday night that workmen installing a sewer apparently “disturbed a gas line” causing the explosion. In addition to those killed, 22 persons were injured. The blast occurred about noon Wednesday.

RICHARD L. BUNN, vice-president of United Gas Improvement Company said gas company crews arrived at the site shortly after being notified by the workmen. Gas company personnel had begun evacuating the six-unit apartment building when the blast occurred Wednesday.

Two houses also were set afire and several other buildings had windows blown out and roofing, porch columns and rain spouts torn free.

Four of the dead lived in the apartment building. State Police identified them as MRS. THELMA HOFFHINES, 53; MRS. MARY JANE SACKS, 26, STEVEN GAUCHES, 3, and a 2-year-old girl, TERRY LAUB.

The body of the fifth victim, CHARLES URMY, 69, was recovered from his house, a two-story duplex that was completely gutted by fire.

The Valley Independent Monessen, Pennsylvania 1973-02-22