East Ohio Gas Company Explosion

On October 20, 1944, a natural gas storage tank at the East Ohio Gas Co. plant in Cleveland, Ohio, exploded.

The plant was located north of St. Clair Avenue near East 61st and East 62nd Streets. Although investigators never discovered a cause for the explosion, witnesses stated that a leak in one of the tanks occurred. Some spark must have then ignited the gas, although, with World War II currently raging, some residents initially suspected a German saboteur. This was one of the worst disasters in Cleveland's history, with 131 people killed. Twenty-one of the victims were never identified.

The East Ohio Gas Company Explosion and fire took place on Friday, 20 Oct. 1944, when a tank containing liquid natural gas equivalent to 90 million cubic feet exploded, setting off the most disastrous fire in Cleveland's history. Homes and businesses were engulfed by a tidal wave of fire in more than 1 sq. mi. of Cleveland's east side, bounded by St. Clair Ave. NE, E. 55th St., E. 67th St., and the MEMORIAL SHOREWAY. At approx. 2:30 P.M., white vapor began leaking out of Storage Tank No. 4, which had been built by the East Ohio Gas Co. in 1942 to provide additional reserve gas for local war industries. The gas in the tank, located at the northern end of E. 61st St., became combustible when mixed with air and exploded at 2:40 P.M., followed by the explosion of a second tank about 20 minutes later. The fire spread through 20 blocks, engulfing rows of houses while missing others.