|O'Connor Electro-Plating Company Explosion
Los Angelas, CA
February 20, 1947
At 9:45 a.m. on February 14, 1947, just south of Downtown Los Angelas at 926 East Pico Boulevard, a blast leveled the factory of the O'Connor Electroplating Company. The factory was in the manufacturing district on Pico Boulevard between Stanford Avenue and Paloma Street. The explosion also destroyed or damaged 116 buildings in a four block area, injured 150 people, killed 15 people, opened a crater 22 feet wide and 6 feet deep, left telephone and electrical wires dangling in the streets, shattered windows across a 1-square-mile area, and was felt as far away as Long Beach and the San Fernando Valley. It was believed that staff chemist Robert Magee was experimenting with using volatile perchloric acid to polish aluminum when the blast occurred. After the explosion, the bodies of Magee, age 35, and his assistant, Alice Iba, age 22, were never found. A 15-foot pipe was hurled over a four-story building and landed a block away, killing a 10-year-old boy riding his bike. Rescue workers pulled dead and injured people, body parts, and dead cats and dogs from the rubble. Some of the employees of the plating company were stained green from chemicals. This incident resulted in Los Angelas' first ordinance regarding hazardous chemicals. It also led to one of the first Hazmat Dictionary's in the United States.