The Oakdale Explosion
May 18, 1918 - Workers at the Aetna Chemical Company in Oakdale, Pennsylvania heard something terrible. It was a popping sound, like that of a firecracker, but they knew it was something much worse. They immediately started running for the doors.
Aetna Chemical Corporation was a factory where they made dynamite, and on this day it blew sky high. At least 200 workers would die in a relentless storm of explosions that literally launched buildings into the air. Bodies were found as far as a half mile from the scene.
In the aftermath of the initial blast, a long series of secondary explosions followed, making rescue operations almost impossible. Intense fires burned inside the wreckage for days.
One team of rescuers was killed as they tried to cross a stream that had been flooded with oil that suddenly burst into flames.