Fireworks Explosion at Chicago
The Pain Fireworks Display Company’s plant at 1320 Wabash avenue, Chicago, was wrecked on September 30 by a fire which was marked by a number of explosions among the $5,000 stock of fireworks. Five people were trapped in the building and lost their lives. The authorities are inclined to put the blame for the fire on carelessness of an electrician, who was one of those killed. The fire was caused, it is believed, by a gas pocket in a fireproof vault and a flame from a blown out fuse. The first explosion was in the basement and there were three or four explosions at short intervals. The fire started at 10.49 a. m. Most of the company’s stock was stored in the rear of the basement. There was a flash and a roar and with the first explosion the plate glass window at the Wabash avenue end of the building disappeared and a mountain of flame burst into the street. The street car tracks were clear for a hundred yards north and south, except for which fact, it is believed, there would have been many more killed and injured. The flames rolled across the street and scorched the front of the building of the Howe Scale Company, all of the windows of which had been shaken out by the explosion. On the heels of the dissipated flame mountain a pillar of smoke several hundred feet in height rolled out of the Pain building. Columns of flame and smoke climbed through holes in the fireworks store, which marked the places where two big skylights had been. The building was one story high, constructed of reinforced concrete and 25 by 150 feet in area. The explosion occurred in the basement. There were eight engines and there were 8 streams on the fire. The building was carefully inspected and it was regarded as a tribute to the strength of its reinforced concrete construction that there was any of it left to inspect, by J. C. McDonnell, chief of the bureau of fire prevention and public safety, and investigators for the new municipal department of public service. At least thirty persons in nearby buildings were cut by broken glass. The loss is estimated at about $50,000. The department was in service about an hour.