Lessons of the Gas Explosion
While the actual fire resulting from the explosion of accumulated gas in the purifying house of the Springfield, Mass., Gas Light Company announced, as it happened, to very little and the immense damage to surrounding property was actually caused by the blast itself, yet matters might have been very different and under certain conditions a terrible conflagration might easily have followed. In the first place, the Springfield fire department did some very prompt and efficient work in confining the blaze to the building involved. Again, given more inflammable surroundings, such as a number of frame dwellings, with lighted stoves and broken gas fixtures to ignite the debris, an uncontrollable disaster would have been probable.
Mr. Wedger’s report on page 295, seems to leave little doubt but that the explosion of the leaking gas was the result of human carelessness or indifference. If the filter box and the central valve or distributor had been of modern construction, the accumulation of gas at the top of the purifying house could not have occurred, and if the electric elevator had been properly isolated the spark needed to set off the mass of inflammable gas would never have been supplied.
The catastrophe should emphasize to all chiefs who have large gas works or tanks within their city limits— and few have not—the necessity to see to it that the receptacles containing these vast accumulations of potentially explosive gas are properly constructed and properly safeguarded. Only by insisting upon such precautions being taken by the companies owning the plants can the city or town be free from the hazard of explosion and fire from this cause.