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A pocket of natural gas exploded early Thursday in the midst of a crew of workers drilling a Metropolitan Water District tunnel 250 feet beneath Sylmar. The explosion turned the 21-foot-high tunnel into an inferno of blazing gases. Sixteen men were believed killed in the blast or in the flames and suffocating smoke that followed, and it was almost 10 hours before the first bodies could be removed. By late Thursday night seven bodies had been removed, and by Friday morning, five other bodies were taken out but the bodies of four other victims remained undiscovered. The explosion was the second in two days at the Metropolitan Water District's San Fernando Tunnel. Both explosions were blamed on methane, the natural gas found in oil fields. Methane is natural gas, the same as that used in gas ranges. In its normal state it is colorless and odorless. Johnny Rathbun, a miner who had been down into the explosion area on rescue work four times, tells newsmen of what he saw down there. Photograph dated June 24, 1971.
1 photographic print :b&w ;24 x 20 cm. on sheet 26 x 21 cm. Photographic prints
00095555 HeraldÂ Examiner Collection HE box 9475 CARL0005107111 http://220.127.116.11/cdm/ref/collection/photos/id/30079
Search and rescue operations--California--Los Angeles Explosions--California--Los Angeles Methane--California--Los Angeles Water tunnels--California--Los Angeles Men--California--Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (Calif.)--Employees Sylmar (Los Angeles, Calif.) Los Angeles Herald-Examiner photographs Herald-Examiner Collection photographs