Note: This is an encore post from 2007.
Feb. 14-15, 1907
An 11:30 a.m. blast caused by an accumulation of gas shattered the Rawson building at 114 W. 2nd St. in an explosion blamed on a gas company employee who struck a match to check the meter. Four people were killed immediately while three more died of their injuries and 30 were hurt, some of them so badly that their crushed limbs were amputated.
The explosion killed two waitresses, La Von Meyers and Annie Crawford; retired farmer John W. Main; and tailor J.M.C. Fuentes. Charles G. Haggerdy, who worked in a tailor shop, died a few days later of his injuries, as did janitor Ferdinand Stephen.
Waitress May Anderson, 25, who also worked at the Anchor Laundry, lingered for months before she died. “Although she suffered excruciating pain, she bore up bravely,” The Times said. “The doctors and nurses said that only her grit kept her alive. She realized that she could not live, however, and her great regret was that she would have to part from her mother, a devoted and constant attendant at the hospital cot.”
Mr. Cressaty, the restaurant proprietor, said it was only after he made a series of complaints to the Los Angeles Gas and Electric Co. that Harvey A. Holderman came to inspect the meter and called for assistance.
“It is at this point that stories conflict,” The Times says. “It was asserted by some of the restaurant employees who escaped that [Charles J.] Blumenthal or Holderman lit a match to make an inspection under the floor of the supposed leaky pipes. They had already turned off the gas at the main.”
Although gas company officials denied that the workers struck a match, one company employee testified at the inquest that inspectors sometimes used matches for illumination because they didn’t have flashlights.
A fund drive to aid victims of the explosion raised nearly $10,000 ($205,235.70 USD 2005).