Butler, PA Steel Mill Explosion, Oct 1907






Butler, Pa., Oct. 6. -- An explosion caused by the upsetting of the metal pot in the No. 1 cupola of the Standard Steel Car company here late tonight caused the death of four men, fatally injured twenty and seriously injured ten others.
Nearly all the men were foreigners.
The large wheel plant, 150 x 100 feet, was demolished, causing a loss estimated at $100,000.
The dead:
NICK DORNA, disemboweled.
NICHOLAS BLOTAR, burned to a crisp.
JOHN VERECK, skull crushed.
Unknown Man, totally dismembered.
The condition of the thirty men injured is pitiable. Although still alive the features of a majority are mutilated beyond recognition. The hot metal was showered over them, causing horrible injuries. Arms, fingers and ears were torn off, while a number of the men had their eyes burned out. Several men are in the hospital with their legs burned to a crisp.
At midnight the physicians attending the injured said that at least ten of the men would die.
The explosion was caused by the upsetting of a metal pot in the cupola which contained 5,000 pounds of molten metal ready for casting. A span in the pot broke, allowing the liquid iron to spill over the wet sand. An explosion followed so quickly that none of the workmen in the building had a chance to escape. Streams of the burning metal poured out on the workmen, some of whom were engulfed and literally cooked.
Twenty men near the cupola had every shred of clothing blown off by the force of the explosion. Many were buried under the wreckage and were not rescued for an hour after the disaster.
Buildings in the city, from the corce of the explosion, shivered as if shaken by an earthquake and people rushed from their homes panic-stricken.
When flames shot from the burning car works fully 10,000 people rushed to the scene, blocking streets and interfering with fire companies and ambulances. Twenty minutes after the accident fifty doctors were on the scene and the wounded were carried into the offices of the car company, where they were cared for. Through lack of room many of the injured were compelled to lie for an hour on cots in street cars before it was possible to take them to the hospital, a mile and a half away. Members of the fire department and citizens assisted in caring for the men, who were totally naked and suffering intensely with the cold.
Three of the city ambulances were pressed into service, but were inadequate to care for the injured with any success.
When the hospital car reached Main and Wayne streets men carried the injured laden cots a quarter of a mile to the hospital. Automobiles and every available vehicle were pressed into service by Mayor ELMER E. BELL and Chief of Police JOSEPH ANGERT and used to convey the injured to the hospital. Cots were carried from hotels and the Diamond skating rink was used as a temporary hospital for the victims as well as hotels and dwelling houses.
The car company's office presents a frightful scene. Twenty men, nearly all of whom had been stripped of their clothing and their faces burned beyond recognition, were hurried there and provided with protection against the cold.
As in every case of so terrible a nature friends and relatives of the victims crowded the hospitals, street cars and would have risked their lives at the burning plant in search of those they knew.
MIKE BLOTAR, one of the dead, was so terribly burned that his own brother did not recognize him.
At the gate of the plant men and women struggled frantically to gain admission and were kept out only by the assistance of a force of policemen.
In the crush many women were injured and their cries of pain and anguish could be heard blocks away.
The car wheel plant was finished last year at a cost of $2,000,000. The wrecked cupola alone cost $30,000. The car works proper, costing $3,000,000, was in danger of destruction, but the fire department soon had the blaze under control.

Titusville Herald Pennsylvania 1907-10-07