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[VIDEO] Indianapolis Explosion Likely Caused by Gas Leak

Nov. 1, 1963 - Indianapolis Fire Chief Arnold Phillips said today he was “almost certain” that leaking propane gas caused the explosion that killed 64 and injured 340 last night. The blast in the State Fairgrounds Coliseum came in the closing minutes of a performance of the Holiday on Ice show. Today flags flew at half-staff throughout the city. The bottled cooking gas was used by popcorn and hotdog concessions in a room below the box seats that were blown up. Gas collected in the concession room and presumably ignited. The police impounded four undamaged tanks of the propane gas for examination by experts, including one coming from the L.P. Gas Association in Boston. The chief said that at least three days would be needed to arrive at a definite conclusion. The propane gas is commonly used by farmers and owners of summer cottages away from gas mains. The Coliseum today was a great morgue. The bodies, many badly burned, lay under green blankets on wooden stands that usually are used to hold folding chairs. The dirty ice was melting underfoot. A hush hung over the scene as relatives and friends came to claim the dead.


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