Pittsburgh, PA Gas Explosion, Dec 1901
TEN MEN BURNED TO DEATH.
GAS EXPLOSION IN A FURNACE RESULTS DISASTROUSLY.
NINETEEN MEN WERE ON TOP OF FURNACE, 120 FEET FROM THE GROUND -- FIFTEEN OF THEM DID NOT HEED WARNINGS -- FEARFUL DEATH AGONIES.
Pittsburg, Pa., Dec. 19. -- Ten men were burned to death and four injured by an explosion of gas at the Soho furnace of Jones & Laughlin, limited, in Second Avenue near Brady Street today. The explosion was caused by a slip in the furnace, a blast flame belching upward through the bell. The men were on the furnace platform eighty-five feet above the ground.
JOHN JONSHO, not expected to recover.
JOHN SABOL, not expected to recover; burned all over body.
MICHAEL PETROVICH, will recover.
There were nineteen men on the furnace when the explosion occurred. Fifteen of them were caught in the flames. Two of them escaped with slight injuries. The other four were the regular men employed as top fillers and escaped without injury.
The explosion was caused by the gas becoming encased in a crust of cinder forming at the bottom of the furnace.
A wheelbarrow containing ore had been sent up to the men and when they went to dump it into the bell of the furnace they pushed it over too far and it rolled into the hopper. The barrow weighed 900 pounds and was too heavy for the four men to raise.
The fifteen laborers, all Hungarians, were then sent up to assist them. Had it not been for the barrow accident no one would have been hurt. The regular men know how to protect themselves at such times, as similar explosions are of frequent occurrence.
The most distressing feature of the disaster, was the burning of FRANKOWICZ. He was seen by the thousands of people who were on their way to work to run to the platform railing and leap into the air.
He was a mass of flames as he whirled through the air. He fell on the stock yard shed and literally burned to death before the eyes of the crowd, fifty feet below, who had no way to reach him.
The residents of Second Avenue who saw the accident say it was too horrible to describe.
When the explosion occurred burning heaps of cinders settled around the men almost knee deep. Their shrieks were terrible and their frantic efforts to save themselves were pitiful in the extreme.
General Manager J. B. Laughlin said today that the accident was one of the most disastrous that has ever occurred in the history of the company.
"The men seemed doomed to that awful end," he said. "They had just started to get the barrow out when the explosion took place. In another minute they would have been away from the place. The nature of the explosion is easily explained. Among furnace men it is known as a 'slip.' By this, we mean that the gas becomes encased by the cinders and coke, becoming gummed, forming a crust in the furnace. The gas accumulates and then the pressure becomes so great that it forces itself through the crust."
"Usually it blocks the hopper bolts off. The top fillers know when this is expected. They are instructed to take the elevator and go to the ground."
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