New York City, NY Brewery Explosion, Mar 1938

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DUST CAUSED FATAL BLASTS IN BREWERY.

APPARENTLY TOUCHED OFF BY SPARKS FROM ELECTRIC WELDING MACHINE.

7 CRITICALLY INJURED.

3 DEAD, 11 OTHERS HURT -- FIND NO EVIDENCE OF NEGLIGENCE.

New York, March 5 (AP) -- Investigators today blamed exploding pitch dust for a series of vicious blasts which leveled sections of a three-story Harlem brewery yesterday, killing three persons and injuring 18 others.
About three fourths of the block-long brick plant of the Horton Pilsener Brewing Company was destroyed with damage unofficially estimated by firemen in excess of $1,000,000.
District Attorney THOMAS E. DEWEY and police and fire department officials, after questioning witnesses for eight hours, said the explosion had been caused by "pitch dust suddenly igniting in the boiler room." The dust apparently had been touched off, they said, by sparks from an electric welding machine.
DEWEY said that although there was no evidence of criminal negligence, he would question injured survivors today.
The blasts, four in rapid succession, came with an ear splitting reverberation that rocked nearby buildings on West 128th Street and shattered windows for blocks around.
GUSTAVE PIEPER, 57; DANIEL JONES, 16, and WALTER PRECOUR, 26, were crushed to death as they ate lunch in a tiny wooden lunch car nestled under the walls of the brewery. All three were employed in other plants nearby.
Six firemen and policemen were injured in horoic rescue work in the face of biting fumes from exploding ammonia tanks and threat of crumbling walls. EDWARD WALSH, brewery engineer, risked his life to shut off valves on several ammonia tanks before seeking safety. He was among the seven critically hurt.
Two priests, the REV. MARTIN O'DONNELL and the REV. ARTHUR J. F. QUINN, among the first to reach the scene, not far from Columbia University, aided in the rescue and ministered to the dead and injured.

The Post Standard Syracuse 1938-03-05