Video: Firefighters remember deadly plant explosion 50 years ago

Feb. 7 marked the 50th anniversary of a deadly explosion that occurred at the Mickelberry Sausage Plant and killed four firefighters

By FireRescue1 Staff

CHICAGO — More than 100 firefighters honored the four firefighters who were killed in a plant explosion 50 years ago.

Chicago Sun Times reported that the firefighters gathered at the site of the Mickelberry Sausage Plant factory to honor the firefighters, as well as the five workers who also died in the explosion.

The fire was caused by a gasoline tanker that leaked fuel into the basement of the building and sparked an explosion when the gas reached the boiler.

Arthur Murray, who was an accountant at the plant at the time of the explosion, said he was standing on the roof of the building when he heard a firefighter say, “We’ve got to get people off this roof because it’s going to blow.”

“And as soon as he said the word ‘blow,’ the building just disintegrated,” Murray said. “I was blown off the roof. I ended up across Halsted Street in a used car parking lot — banged against several automobiles — but I was conscious all the while.”

Murray expressed his gratitude towards the firefighters who saved him.

“Firefighters are just … I get emotional … It was my lucky day, obviously,” he said.

At the memorial, relatives of the fallen firefighters laid a wreath at the site of the explosion, while a bagpiper played “Amazing Grace.” The location is now a vacant lot.

“Today kind of really makes me feel proud of my dad,” Ken Leifker, whose firefighter father was killed in the fire, said. “I guess it affects you when you don’t have a dad to coach your baseball teams and stuff, so it seems like my mom was both my mom and my dad my whole life.”

“I salute the families here today as we remember the day that the gates of hell opened up in the Back of the Yards neighborhood and the lives of so many changed,” Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago said.


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