Kenosha, WI Auto Plant Explosion, Oct 1956

GAS EXPLOSION IN KENOSHA AUTO PLANT HOSPITALIZES 14.

6 SERIOUSLY BURNED BY THE BLAST.

Kenosha (AP) -- Fourteen persons were burned, six seriously, today in an explosion and fire in the motor testing department at the American Motors Co.'s automobile assembly plant.
The blast originated in a subsurface pit carrying natural gas and power lines that furnish motive power for the engines being tested on the assembly line.
It shot searing flames out of metal covers, enveloping the workers who were standing just above. Fire broke out in the pits as oil, gas fumes, sawdust and waste materials ignited. Firemen extinguished the blaze in about half an hour.
American Motors manufactures Nash, Hudson and Rambler automobiles. The blast and fire occurred in the testing department where some 200 persons are employed, about 50 of them along the conveyor line where the blast occurred.

Fire Ignites Gas.
Fire and plant engineering personnel investigated the explosion and attributed it to a broken natural gas pipe and fire in an electrical switch.
A foreman and a repairman reached for a hand fire extinguisher seconds before the explosion likened to a clap of thunder. Flames and smoke shot upward after a flareup in a starter switch.
The injured were rushed to hospitals in private cars and ambulances.
Eight persons were released after emergency treatment for burns. Six more seriously injured were hospitalized. Hospital attendants said several suffered third degree burns about the face, arms and upper portion of the body.

Injured Listed.
Those most seriously burned were:
CASEY GRAY, 30.
WILLIAM WESTERMAN, 56.
JOHN ONISCZUK, 25.
JOE STEAGALL, 34.
CHESTER KWICINSKI, 46.
JAMES MARINI, 36, all of Kenosha.
Treated and released were:
BONNIE SCHULTZ, 22, Racine.
ELIAS GOMEZ, 28.
WILLIAM TEMPLIN, 42.
DON GIARDINE, 26.
ARTHUR BERRY, 62.
GEORGE KUCHCINSKI, 35.
LEE OZANICK, 50.
ARTHUR McVICAR, 44, all of Kenosha.
When the blast occurred, workers in other departments of the plant rushed to the testing department to give aid but were held back as officials feared another explosion.
American Motors officials decided to halt production at 11 a.m., two and a half hours after the blast. There was no indication when production would be resumed. Earlier they said material loss would not be extensive.

Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune 1956-10-18