1929: "Double gas explosions in Munhall"
When the first gas line exploded, Anna Fincisky thought it was just another noisy blast from the nearby steel mill in Homestead.
Fincisky was a store clerk working next to the post office in Munhall on Thursday, Dec. 5, 1929, when a faulty gas line exploded and killed six people. More than 50 others were injured; four of them were in “precarious condition,” including the assistant postmaster and the conductor of a street car that was passing by when the explosion happened.
The aftermath resembled “the sweepings of a carpenter’s shop,” with jagged pieces of wood, metal and glass filling a block on Eighth Avenue. Scores of volunteers went to the streets to help comb through the wreckage.
The explosion caused more than superficial damage. Other portions of the gas line were damaged by the blast, including one that had been patched.
Less than 24 hours later, a line under the Star Drug Store blew when a plumber — investigating the source of the first blast — lit a lamp in the shop’s basement.
Four more injuries resulted.
Equitable Gas Co. owned the problematic lines (and the gas tanks in the 1927 explosion on the city’s North Side). After the second explosion, the coroner ordered all lines in Eighth Avenue’s vicinity to be turned off. Equitable announced the entire main would be replaced.
The town was on edge after the double blast.
After the tragedy, loud pops like tire blasts were cause for frequent calls to the Munhall police department, officers had to reassure residents that things were under control by Friday afternoon.
In the Post-Gazette’s photo archive, there are about a dozen photos from that terrible week in Munhall’s history, including small headshots. These are presumably those of the injured or deceased, it’s hard to tell though: none of them are labeled.