The Buddy's Gulf Explosion

On April 17, 1978 I was standing in the showroom of White Dodge at the Patrick Street Plaza, looking through the showroom window towards 7th Ave. when an explosion rocked the area so hard that the window bowed-in and almost touched my nose.  I saw a fire ball and smoke across the way.  I jumped into my car and raced to 21st and 7th Ave where all hell was breaking loose.   I arrived with my camera ( I was working for the newspaper on my days off from the fire dept )  and started shooting before the first fire trucks arrived.  There was a huge fire in a pit,  the gas station had blown apart, a car was on fire, and it appeared that a house or two behind the station was burning.  There was no one around when I arrived,  people having escaped somewhere into the neighborhood.

The explosion was only 1/2 mile from where I had been standing,  so it didnt take me long to get to the scene. This is the first shot I took.  

Another view showing the pit on fire and the houses obliterated by fire and smoke.


When the first engine showed-up,  they knew they were in trouble:  There were only 3 men on the engine and this fire would need a dozen.  On the left is  Doug McComas and Bill Pauley,  both off-duty Charleston firefighters who just happen to be passing by,  and stopped to help.


Capt George Venitsanos is wondering why he's getting no pressure from his hose.  The explosion had damaged the line to the hydrant as I recall.  At this point,  there are still only three people fighting the fire.


More passersby show up to lend a hand and the water pressure has been restored.

The main thing at this point was to save the houses behind the gas station.  The car meanwhile is fully engulfed.

Another Engine Company has arrived and the fire is being attacked on two fronts.

See Page Two Of The Buddy's Gulf Explosion


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