Toledo, OH Chemical Plant Explosion, May 1962
9 DEAD, 46 INJURED IN TOLEDO BLAST.
Toledo -- (AP) -- Firemen continued today to probe the charred debris of a chemical plant where an explosion Thursday killed at least nine persons and injured 46.
Authorities said the body of one person still unaccounted for may be in the debris of the Maumee Chemical Co. All the dead were company empoyes.
Nine of the injured remained in Toledo hospitals.
The devastating explosion in the three-story plant near downtown Toledo spewed wreckage over a five-block area.
Great clouds of multi-colored smoke -- at one point it was a brilliant orange -- rolled over the city as chemicals in the plant burned.
Streets were littered with glass from windows shattered by the force of the explosion.
"I'm damned lucky to be alive," commented WILFRED C. LAUER, manager of a grocery store across the street from the plant. The plant was located on the east bank of the Maumee River. The downtown area is on the west bank, less than a quarter mile away.
LAUER said he and a customer fled the store after one minor explosion inside the plant. When an alarm stopped ringing, the grocer said he returned to his store.
Then, "There was a terrific explosion ... There was debris flying ... The building just collapsed," he added.
In a nearby office building, 73-year-old CHARLES BIGLEY said he was walking away from his desk near a window when the chemical plant went "boom."
BIGLEY said the blast "just lifted me up. For a minute or two I couldn't breathe."
Window glass sprayed his desk, he said, adding:
"The good Lord was with me that time."
The cause of the blast?
"It could have been caused by a lot of things ... We may never know," said R. H. Baldwin, company chief engineer.
Officials declined to estimate the estimate the amount of damage.
A building across the street sagged under the force of the explosion. Homes were jolted, cracking plaster, floors and ceilings. Police and firemen evacuated families from the area when fumes and the possibility of additional explosions threatened the area.
WILLIAM COWELL was knocked flat as he walked several blocks from the plant. He was reported in serious condition at St. Charles Hospital.
Others reported being thrown violently to the ground or against walls or other objects.
Some of the chemical company's employes were attending a safety meeting in the plant cafeteria. They were second shift workers who reported early for the weekly safety program.
One of the workers, 33-year-old HERBERT FRISBEE, suffered only minor cuts.
Among the dead was GERALD W. HICKEY, who had gone to work for the company only a few months ago, moving here from Providence, R. I.
Other dead included CARL GRIESENGER, 25; WINFIELD BOWMAN, 51; HARRY McCORD, 65; JAMES FINCHER; B. A. PEDIGO; W. T. HAMILTION; ROBERT WAMBOLD and CHARLES STAPF, all employes.
The fire that followed the blast burned out of control for more than three hours. It was another five hours before the wreckage cooled enough to permit the search for victims.
Evening Independent Massillon Ohio 1962-05-11