Disaster Worst in 25 Years; Damage Said to be Slight

SEVEN persons were instantly killed and more than eighty injured in a terrific explosion that wrecked the one story brick rim-fire and packing building of the huge plant of the Remington Arms Company, key American arsenal, on March 28.

The blast, which reverberated over the entire city, sent great sheets of flame leaping hundreds of feet into the air, shattered windows for blocks around, and imperilled many residents as flying bullets pelted homes and streets.

The seven persons killed, four women and three men, all veteran employes at the munitions plant, were trapped in the inferno of the structure, located at the corner of Helen Street and Boston Avenue. One of the victims, Miss Katherine Butler, was a sister to Fireman Frank J. Butler, a member of the Bridgeport Fire Department.

Within a few seconds after the explosion occurred at 1:59 P.M., a passerby pulled an alarm from Box 437, Berkshire Avenue and Hallett Street, one block east of the plant. A second alarm was ordered at 2:04 P.M. On the first alarm Engines 2, 10, Truck 10 and Squad 5 responded. Engines 6 and 5 and Truck 6 reported on the second alarm.

Firemen under command of Fire Chief Martin J. Hayden fought the blaze for two hours and remained at the scene until the debris was cleared and all bodies were recovered the following day. The Remington Company’s own fire department composed of plant defense workers aided the city firemen in combatting the flames.

After a long conference with FBI officials, Floyd E. Williamson, public relations director of the company, issued the following statement: the explosion was caused in the packing area where primers for military ammunition were being packed in wooden boxes.

Scene at Height of Blaze at the Remington Arms Fire

Photo Courtesy Bridgeport Post

“After a preliminary examination, company officials were convinced that

Aerial View of Fire in Which Seven Persons Were Killed and Eighty Injured

“These primers are more sensitive than ordinary ammunition and despite extra precautions taken in their packing, it was believed that a nail driven into one of the boxes was deflected, pierced the metal lining and initiated the explosion.”

Due to its entire production being on a war-time basis, the Remington plant, one of the largest in the United States, is working seven days a week. Mr. Williamson stated that in no department of the great plant did any worker stay away on Sunday, the day following the explosion. He described this showing as a “remarkable display of willingness to stay in there and pitch with our country at war.”

Mayor Jasper McLevy, expressing the sorrow of the city of Bridgeport at the tragedy, joined with Fire Chief Martin J. Hayden and Remington officials in high praise of civilian defense workers for their assisting role following the blast, Bridgeport’s worst industrial disaster in twenty-five years. The Company discounts any theory that the explosion may have been caused by sabotage, as was first reported.

Plant officials indicated that the dollar value of loss was “very small” because of the absence of machinery and other costly items in the destroyed building.

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