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Continuing the story

Within minutes of the 5:50 a.m. explosion of the Valley View Apartment Building on Commerce and Valley streets, on Friday, April 27, 1956, a large crowd has gathered on the north side of the Norfolk and Western Railroad tracks.
Neighbors stood around in clusters counting off the occupants of the building on their fingers.
But no one in the crowd could say how many people were in the building at the time of the blast.
There were many in tears as they agonized over friends and family members, or at the sight they were experiencing.
The once handsome old Loan and Trust Building lay crumpled in a flaming, smoking pile of brick and flaming timbers.
Screams and pleas for help gradually died away, and an organized rescue operation was soon underway.
Pulaski firefighters were joined by those of nearby communities and the Radford Arsenal. A stream of water drove back the flames for those attempting to rescue victims from the hot steaming bricks.
They reached Mrs. Nora Davis, but the bricks were too hot to move.
Douglas Linkous ran into the inferno and rescued one victim.
When Mrs. Davis was removed from the hot bricks, she was taken immediately to Pulaski Hospital, but she was so badly burned that she died the next night.
By 9 a.m., the fire was under control, and the gruesome ordeal of digging out bodies was underway.
People who had never before worked together became a team, aiding the local National Guard unit in a grim search for victims.
It is difficult to name all of the individuals and organizations involved in the entire operation, but among those who worked tirelessly were the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Pulaski town employees, Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary, Davis and Armentrout, Radford National Guard, Trinkle and Dobyns, Virginia Iak Flooring Co., Appalachian Power Co., C&P Telephone Co., Stanley Strickler, undertaker, and many others numbering more than two dozen.
Directing the operation was Pulaski Town Manager Julian Hirst.
In the smoldering rubble, nine lifeless bodies waited to be removed.
It was a heartbreaking sight for family members and friends who watched and prayed as the bodies were removed one by one. For all Pulaskians, it was a very gloomy day.
Bold headlines in The Southwest Times that day underestimated both the dead and missing.
Two days later, a headline read, “Blast claims 11th victim.”
Eleven innocent lives were snuffed out, and at least 12 people injured.
A list of names of those who died as a result of the explosion and fire follows: Mrs. Helen Denton, 51; Clark Mabe, 9; Mrs. Bertie Mae Morris, 51; Miss Minnie Maude Akers, 74; George Henry Goad, Jr., 79; Mrs. Rosa Matherly, 73; Mrs. Eugene Welch, 54; Lilly Mae Welch, 22; Victor Welch, 12; and Garland Welch, 16; and Mrs. Nora Stoots Davis, 58.
An interesting sidelight: The Eugene Welch family’s possessions were packed when the explosion occurred.
They were scheduled to move out on that day.
Following is a list of the names of some of those who were injured and taken to Pulaski Hospital: Eugene Welch, William Jefferson Mehaffey, Norma Jean Mabe, Leona Cruff, Jordan Oliver and Mrs. W. J. Mehaffey.
There were several others who received minor injuries.
These were Charles Lindsey of Bunts Street, Mr. Lytton, and possibly others.
The Valley View Apartment tragedy will have to go down in history as the worst tragedy to ever strike this town.
We should always remember the brave heroes who gave so much on that April day in 1956.

Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski

Continuing the story

Within minutes of the 5:50 a.m. explosion of the Valley View Apartment Building on Commerce and Valley streets, on Friday, April 27, 1956, a large crowd has gathered on the north side of the Norfolk and Western Railroad tracks.
Neighbors stood around in clusters counting off the occupants of the building on their fingers.
But no one in the crowd could say how many people were in the building at the time of the blast.
There were many in tears as they agonized over friends and family members, or at the sight they were experiencing.
The once handsome old Loan and Trust Building lay crumpled in a flaming, smoking pile of brick and flaming timbers.
Screams and pleas for help gradually died away, and an organized rescue operation was soon underway.
Pulaski firefighters were joined by those of nearby communities and the Radford Arsenal. A stream of water drove back the flames for those attempting to rescue victims from the hot steaming bricks.
They reached Mrs. Nora Davis, but the bricks were too hot to move.
Douglas Linkous ran into the inferno and rescued one victim.
When Mrs. Davis was removed from the hot bricks, she was taken immediately to Pulaski Hospital, but she was so badly burned that she died the next night.
By 9 a.m., the fire was under control, and the gruesome ordeal of digging out bodies was underway.
People who had never before worked together became a team, aiding the local National Guard unit in a grim search for victims.
It is difficult to name all of the individuals and organizations involved in the entire operation, but among those who worked tirelessly were the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Pulaski town employees, Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary, Davis and Armentrout, Radford National Guard, Trinkle and Dobyns, Virginia Iak Flooring Co., Appalachian Power Co., C&P Telephone Co., Stanley Strickler, undertaker, and many others numbering more than two dozen.
Directing the operation was Pulaski Town Manager Julian Hirst.
In the smoldering rubble, nine lifeless bodies waited to be removed.
It was a heartbreaking sight for family members and friends who watched and prayed as the bodies were removed one by one. For all Pulaskians, it was a very gloomy day.
Bold headlines in The Southwest Times that day underestimated both the dead and missing.
Two days later, a headline read, “Blast claims 11th victim.”
Eleven innocent lives were snuffed out, and at least 12 people injured.
A list of names of those who died as a result of the explosion and fire follows: Mrs. Helen Denton, 51; Clark Mabe, 9; Mrs. Bertie Mae Morris, 51; Miss Minnie Maude Akers, 74; George Henry Goad, Jr., 79; Mrs. Rosa Matherly, 73; Mrs. Eugene Welch, 54; Lilly Mae Welch, 22; Victor Welch, 12; and Garland Welch, 16; and Mrs. Nora Stoots Davis, 58.
An interesting sidelight: The Eugene Welch family’s possessions were packed when the explosion occurred.
They were scheduled to move out on that day.
Following is a list of the names of some of those who were injured and taken to Pulaski Hospital: Eugene Welch, William Jefferson Mehaffey, Norma Jean Mabe, Leona Cruff, Jordan Oliver and Mrs. W. J. Mehaffey.
There were several others who received minor injuries.
These were Charles Lindsey of Bunts Street, Mr. Lytton, and possibly others.
The Valley View Apartment tragedy will have to go down in history as the worst tragedy to ever strike this town.
We should always remember the brave heroes who gave so much on that April day in 1956.

Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski