killing 15 people, injuring 151, damaging 116 buildings
Investigators blamed the devastation on a tank of perchloric acid that the plant's chief chemist, Robert M. Magee, had been tending at the time of the blast. The bodies of Magee and his assistant, Miss Alice Iba, were never found and were believed "blown to bits."
For almost a year, Magee worked on a revolutionary process for polishing aluminum, anxiously waiting to get it patented. He was using a mixture of 140 gallons of acetic anhydride, nearly as volatile as nitroglycerin.