Harding, PA Nursing Home Blast, Jul 1969


While a team of investigators from the State Department of Mines sifted through the wreckage in search of the cause of Thursday's disastrous explosion of a Harding nursing home, funeral arrangements for two of the four persons killed were announced Friday.
Hospitals report four of the seven persons injured in the blast remain in guarded condition with burns of the body.
Meanwhile, state officials, fearful of a possible recurrence, asked about 20 families in the immediate area of the Winters' Nursing Home to vacate their homes until the cause is determined.
It was thought the explosion on Thursday may have resulted from seepage of natural gas into pockets close to the two story frame building which was leveled by the blast and fire which followed.
Four guests died, and four others were injured, along with the owner, his son and an employee. They were the only persons in the building.
The dead were identified as MRS. MARY HITCHENER, 82, West Pittston, the last brought from the wreckage, and MARGARET PASALOCK, 84; REBA TIGUS, 74; and FLORENCE TRAX, 67.
MARY RIZZO, 80, and FAY ROBERTS, 45, who lived at the home, along with ROBERT WINTERS, SR., 38, the operator, and his son, ROBERT, JR., 16, were in serious condition at Nesbitt Memorial Hospital in Kingston.
MARY TANZA, 60, of Larksville; BETTY HOWER, 49, of Milton, who lived at the home, and WILLIAM BELL, 54, of Exeter, a repairman, were in serious condition at the Pittston Hospital.
WINTERS recently purchased a large building in Luzerne, Pa., and planned to move his operation to that community.
Volunteer firemen said the explosion sounded like a blast of a cherry bomb and that pieces of wood were hurled through the air.
Several persons ran out with their clothes on fire. Neighbors in the area ran to the burning building wreckage and assisted the others.

Standard-Speaker Hazleton Pennsylvania 1969-07-05