Los Angeles, CA Plating Works Explosion, Feb 1947

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Remains of O'Connor Plating Building

LOS ANGELES' WORST BLAST CAUSES 10 DEATHS; BODIES BURNED BEYOND RECOGNITION.

Los Angeles, Feb. 20 -- An explosion today demolished a downtown plating works, shattered buildings throughout the block, and injured many persons.
At least 10 persons were killed, and more than 100 injured.
Fire Chief JOHN ALDERSON said it was the city's worst explosion
A solidly-built six-story building across the street absorbed most of the concussion, he said, preventing the blast from levelling the entire block.
ALDERSON said some of the bodies were burned so badly it was impossible to determine sex.
"The people inside were almost cooked alive by the terrible heat," he said.
Cries could be heard from persons trapped in the wreckage.
The entire one-story brick building housing the O'Connor Plating Works at Pico and Stafford streets collapsed in the explosion at 9:45 A. M. (PST).
Windows two miles away were broken.
The explosion was heard 15 miles away.
Persons at the scene were unable immediately to tell what caused the blast.
Authorities said at least 35 persons were in the building when the explosion occurred.

The Daily Courier Connellsville Pennsylvania 1947-02-20

BLAST LIKE THAT OF A-BOMB LEVELS LOS ANGELES AREA

Los Angeles, Feb. 21 -- Bulldozers and steamshovels ground through the debris of an electroplating plant today, clearing the way for an investigation of the explosion which leveled a city block and left 15 persons dead and hundreds injured.
The death toll was established by Coroner BEN BROWN, who said that the casualty figure may be revised upward from the list of critically injured. More than 100 of the known 200 injured remained in hospitals today.
The city's worst explosion might have been caused by a breakdown in the plant refrigeration system only an hour earlier, Fire Prevention Chief EARL H. RICHARDSON, said. He said the plant was using a new plating process for aluminum which employs concentrated perchloric acid. The acid is so volatile it must be kept under constant refrigeration.
The mushrooming blast, so deafening that persons miles from the scene believed an atom bomb had fallen, left an estimated 500 survivors homeless.
At least 100 families were led in emergency canteens and then transferred to housing projects for the night. Many of them ost all their possessions when the explosion tore up their homes.
Property damage amounted to $1,000,000 and possibly may double that. The one-story O'Connor electro-plating works was virtually disintergrated. A dozen homes in the same block were demolished. Thirty others were said by city building inspectors to be unsafe until repaired. A total of 300 buildings were demolished or damaged.
Windows were broken two miles away. A 12-year-old Negro boy riding his bicycle three blocks distant was killed by a flying pipe. The reverberating roar and blast shook homes more than 15 miles from the scene. A mushroom cloud of black smoke made survivors think they had been struck by an atom bomb.
Police and fire crews, together with volunteer workers, scrambled through the chaos of debris in a search for additional victims. Bulldozers and steam shovels worked under arc lights last night.
Some of the victims were literally blown to bits. Their remains were unidentifiable.
A spokesman for ROBERT O'CONNER, general manager of the small plant, denied reports that it had been doing secret U. S. Army work.
"We did considerable Government work during the war," he said, "but to my knowledge we were not working of any Government contracs."
JOHN J. O'CONNOR, the 68-year-old owner, said the blast might have been from a short circuit in a vat of chemicals. He was near collapse as he looked over the wreckage.
Fire Chief JOHN H. ALDERSON said it was "only a miracle" that more were not killed. Twenty-six persons were in the plant at the time, although at other times 70 are employed.
The blast broke gas mains and felled power lines. Occupants of all buildings within two blocks of the industrial area were evacuated in fear of fire.

The Daily Courier Connellsville Pennsylvania 1947-02-21