9 INJURED IN EXPLOSION
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radio to Highway Patrolman Jim Dukes at the scene.
Dukes was requesting more help to unsnarl the traffic jam when he suddenly blurted emotionally into the radio mike:
"Oh, my God. The whole thing's gone up."
THROWN TO WALK
The half dozen firemen on the sidewalk by the Toy house were lifted off their feet and flung to the pavement by the force of the blast.
Some were caught under the collapsing south wall of the home and freed by fellow firemen who dashed to help them despite the eminent danger of a second blast.
"I saw firemen suddenly flying through the air,' said Policeman Bob Burke who brought an injured hoseman to Mission Emergency Hospital in his radio car.
"They looked like rag dolls."
BLOWN 40 FEET
Firemen and bystanders as far as 40 feet from the blast were knocked from their feet.
- A number of residents in the neighborhood suffered minor injuries.
Jerry Horner. 16, who lives at 715 Ellsworth St., three blocks from the explosion, suffered eye and head injuries.
"I went down there to look at the firemen." he said. "Suddenly I heard an explosion and saw the house fold up '
That's all I remember."
The house was 30 yards from the leaking gas main. The force of the explosion le sent glass and other debris bi showering for 60 yards around h: the corner. The frame building was relentlessly engulfed in in flames.
The roar of the blast was heard for miles. Firemen on the corner at the time were strewn like straws by the force.
BLOWN 100 FEET
One fireman, Charles May, 49, of 1751 Sanchez St., was blown through the air for 100 feet. He was brought to Mission Emergency with a serious head injury.
Battalion Chief Frank Lamey, 58, of 130 College Ave., survived the explosion, but collapsed 20 minutes later as he directed fire fighters. He was dead on arrival at Mission Emergency Hospital from a heart attack.
LIST OF GAS VICTIMS
A battalion chief dropped dead and nine firemen were injured — two critically — fighting Wednesday's Bernal Heights gas fire.
The chief was Frank Lamey, 63, who arrived on the scene at the second alarm. He collapsed of a heart attack 20 minutes later.
Most seriously injured were Fireman Anthony Marelich, 24, of 338 Naples st., and Lt. Clarence McGrath, 52, of 750 Moscow st.
Fireman Chester Born, 40, of 1055 Monterey blvd., back injury.
Fireman Charles May, 49 of 1751 Sanchez st., burns and bruises.
Fireman William Smith, 41, of 1499 South Van Ness ave., cuts and bruises.
Fireman William Hennessy, 31, of 58 Dorland st., cut and bruises.
Fireman Mervyn Fauss, 32, of 2762 24th St., cuts and bruises.
Fireman James F. Hannratty, 47, of 137 Idora ave., cuts and bruises.
Fireman John Voelkner, 34, of 341 Alpha st., possible broken leg and burns.
ONE VICTIM DIDN’T HAVE TO BE THERE
GIVEN A CHANCE TO LIVE
BY WILLIAM L. MACKEY (unknown San Francisco newspaper reporter)
It was routine to the point of boredom for the men of the Fire Department Truck Co. Nine yesterday—and then it was tragedy.
Fireman Anthony Marelich, 24, had cook duty for the crew in the fire station at 25th and Vermont Sts.
At 3:30 p. m. he began preparing evening chow — roast beef, potatoes, a vegetable.
Two hours later, Marelich took the full brunt of a fiery gas explosion and because of it lay barely alive at Mission Emergency Hospital
And he could have avoided it all.
FIRST AT SCENE
The men from Truck Co. Nine were first on the scene at Crescent Ave. and Alemany Blvd., directing the evacuation of the area around the leaking 'gas main.
"We were standing in front of this house," said Fireman John Voelker.
”I think I had my back to it, but Tony (Marelich) must have been looking, right at it to see if the people were out.
"Then it went. . . Oh, Hell, how it, went."
The house exploded and the force of the blast, ripped Voelker's heavy fireman's coat apart. His helmet flew off and he felt himself suddenly lifted from the sidewalk by a overpowering surge of hot air.
"1 saw flame come around my head," said Voelker, father of five children. His hair was singed and charred strands of it stained his pillow on the gurney at Alemany Emergency Hospital. ;
"I felt myself flying through the air and then I hit face down," said Voelker.
BLOWN 40 FEET
He had been blown 40 feet from the sidewalk in front of 'he blasted house into a dairy parking lot across the street. A policeman lifted him into a patrol car and took him to the hospital. His right leg was broken.
“My God, I was Lucky,” said Voelker, “but Tony, he didn’t even have to be there.
“Just before she went, one of the pumper trucks was going to return to our station and Tony had the chance to go.”
Clarence McGrath, 52, of 750 Moscow s
St., like Marelich, was facing the house on Crescent Ave.
“Why don’t you go back to the station and finish getting dinner ready," McGrath told Marelich,
"Too exciting here . . .something's going to happen," said Marelich. He told another in fireman what to do with the roast beef on the fire house the ire house stove.
Then came the blast,
"I was trying to stand up in the lot," said Voelker. "I couldn't see Tony or Clarence, but there were men sprawled all around and helmets and broken glass.
"I couldn't get up . . . my leg hurt ... but 1 was alive."
Voelker, McGrath and Marelich all were taken to Alemany before being transferred to Mission Emergency. From his gurney, Voelker, who lives at 341 Alpha St., could see McGrath, unconscious from head and internal injuries and in critical condition, on another gurney.
He lifted his head and could see the boots of Fireman Marelich at the end of an operating table in the emergency ward. The critically hurt fireman, unmarried, lives at 333 Naples St. "How is he?" Voelker asked, a hospital steward, pointing to the boots visible through the door.
"He's going to have a tough time making," said the steward.
"Hell." said Voelker. "He's going to be 25 on Saturday,
NCB PHOTOGRAPHER TELLS BLAST HORROR
A News Call Bulletin photographer was one of the first still cameramen on the scene of the explosion at AlEmany blvd. - Crescent ave. Here is his eye-witness account:
By BOB JONES
How I escaped getting killed or injured, I'll never know.
It was the worst I've ever in; seen, even in the Navy during combat
I was in the middle of Crescent st., with my back to the house at 5 80 Nevada st.
Some of the firemen near the house and I was trying to figure out how to take a picture of the gas leak. All you could see was low cloud of dust, with the! PG&E men trying to figure out what to do about leak.
ALL OF A sudden, there came the explosion. crouched down and was not even scratched, but men 1 I were flying all over the place.
One fireman next to me was hit by a 2x4; another was knocked flat by the blast, which I could feel all around me. \ I saw at least three firemen under the collapsed wall of the house and started taking pictures of the scene.
At first, I had a little trouble getting the camera hooked up.
THE FIRST shot I took showed just the crumpled house.
By the time I could take | another, the whole place was Ion fire.
Man, you should have seen it!
Firemen were lying all over the street.
There was so much going on all at once, I didn't know where to shoot next.
I saw one fireman crawling away on his hands and knees.
Another's hair was on fire.
I hope I never see anything like that again!
It was pretty awful.
Source: San Francisco News-Call Bulletin
Extracted from original sources with grammar and spelling as published.
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