November 15, 1904
Harry L. Redd was crawling around beneath the city streets attempting to repair a telephone wire, but it was so dark he couldn’t see a thing. He’d been catching a whiff of gas fumes for the past few days in the same location, yet without thinking he fumbled around in his pockets until he found a match. He scraped the match across his trousers and, KABOOM!
Harry’s world caught fire, leaving him dazed and in excruciating pain. The force of the explosion hurled him back against some pipes. The injured man was snapped back to his senses when a second blast thrust him out of the manhole and into the street. He was so violently tossed around that he rolled for a few feet, and then fell backwards through the manhole. Unbelievably, although badly burned, Harry survived.
Several bystanders were hurt, including a small boy named Albert Adams who had been attracted to the site moments before the blast. He’d been walking down the street when he noticed the open manhole. Albert was curious and had poked his head into the hole to see what was going on when the first detonation occurred. The lucky young man escaped with nothing more serious than singed eyebrows.
The eruption was so powerful that a heavy iron manhole cover at Fourth and Hill Streets flew up into the air and flipped over several times before returning to Earth. The only building to suffer damage was at 331 South Hill where the windows were shattered.