Elizabeth, NJ Oil Refinery Explosion, Feb 1930
BLAME BROKEN PIPE LINE FOR BLAST THAT KILLED 10.
MANY OF THOSE HURT WILL DIE OR BE BLINDED.
NAPTHA FLAMES, AFTER EXPLOSION IN PLANT, CAUSE BURNS.
Elizabeth, N.J., Feb. 19. (AP) -- The ranks of 60 injured workmen, who were seared with exploding naptha at a Standard Oil refinery late yesterday, were depleted by death today until the list of fatalities had reached 10.
Among the 50 bandage swathed laborers in three hospitals here, were 20 whose chances of recovery were doubtful. It was feared that several of these would be permanently blinded if they survived the scorching blast which spurted thru part of the bay way refiner.
DOMINICK BIONI, Elizabeth.
WILLIAM S. DUFFY, Bayonne.
WILLIAM F. CASEY, Elizabeth.
ARTHUR LUKASLOWICZ, Elizabeth.
ARTHUR CROFT, Union.
HOWARD A. HOLLIDAY, Bayonne.
GEORGE ROBERTSON, Roselle.
JOHN LUBAS, Elizabeth.
CLARENCE CROFT, Bayonne.
JOHN SULLIVAN, Elizabeth.
The explosion occurred yesterday afternoon in the alcohol plant of the refinery. J. Raymond Carringer, general manager, said the blast was caused by the breaking of a gas line.
Survivors said the pipe which broke was a high pressure naptha line and that fumes from it were ignited by portable forges used by workmen constructing a new building near the one story building housing the alcohol plant.
The night shift of 1,100 men employed on the 100 acre reservation occupied by the plant in Linden, a suburb, had started work at 3 o'clock. They had been on duty 55 minutes when there was a terrific explosion followed immediately by two lesser blasts.
Long tongues of blue flame from alcohol fumes shot from the windows and doors of the building and from gaping holes torn in the roof and walls.
About 20 feet from the alcohol plant a force of masons, carpenters and laborers was working on the new building. The force of the explosion threw them from scaffolds while the flames set their clothing afire.
Workmen employed in the alcohol plant rushed out, their clothing aflame and many blinded by the fire. They left four of their fellow workmen dead in the plant. Their bodies were recovered after the fire which followed the explosion had been extinguished. The four others died after being taken to hospitals.
At the hospitals cots were set up in corridors to care for the injured.
Every doctor and nurse in Elizabeth was called upon. WILLIAM SLAVEN, a mechanic, who came out of the alcohol plant unscathed said:
"It seemed as if flames were shooting out in long tongues all around me. Many of the tongues of flames acted freakishly as they followed the path of the alcohol fumes. The flames were on all sides of me. One sheet of flame was only 10 feet from me. It left me untouched, but I saw it strike some other men."
JAMES CAPERINICCHIO, a laborer employed on the new building, said he was wheeling a barrow of mortar when the explosion occurred. He said although he was 150 feet from the alcohol plant, he was hurled to the ground by the blast and found himself afire.
"I leaped up," he said, "and everybody around me looked as if they were dead. They were all on the ground. Then they began getting up. Most of them were on fire. They started running. There is a heavy wire fence around the building just there. Most of the men seemed unable to see. They couldn't find the gate to get out and they became panicky, beating at the fence and screaming like mad."
Besides burns suffered from the flames, many of the workmen on the new building suffered fractures and other injuries in falling from the scaffolds.
Mason City Globe-Gazette Iowa 1930-02-19