Framework

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June 16, 1976: Firemen battle blaze following gasoline pipeline explosion in Palms near Culver City. This photo was published in the June 17, 1976, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Fitzgerald Whitney / Los Angeles Times

June 16, 1976: Fireball at blast site on Venice Boulevard in Palms near Culver City after explosion levels a city block. This photo was published in the June 17, 1976, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Fry / Los Angeles Times.

June 16, 1976: Paramedics give aid to victim of gasoline explosion on edge of Culver City. This photo was published on the June 17, 1976, Los Angeles Times front page.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Fitzgerald Whitney / Los Angeles Times

June 16, 1976: Firemen from Culver City, Los Angeles city and county battle fires after explosion on West Venice Boulevard. Heat from blast and fires scorched the bus bench. This photo was published in the June 17, 1976, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Fitzgerald Whitney / Los Angeles Times

June 17, 1976: Firemen check wreckage the morning after explosion and fire on the edge of Culver City. This photo was published in the Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Fry / Los Angeles Times.

June 17, 1976: Overhead view of north side of Venice Boulevard where gasoline explosion destroyed seven buildings and killed nine people. This photo was published in the June 18, 1976, Los Angeles Times. Photo taken from KMPC helicopter.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Steve Fontanini / Los Angeles Times

June 17, 1976: Martin Kosven looks over the remains of his auto parts store on Venice Boulevard after gasoline explosion leveled an entire block in the Palms area near Culver City. Kosven suffered burns on one arm and neck. This photo was published in the June 18, 1976, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bill Varie / Los Angeles Times

June 16, 1976: Worker points to hole cut in gasoline line by a bulldozer resulting in an explosion that leveled an entire block on Venice Boulevard in Palms near Culver City. This photo was published in the June 17, 1976, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Fry / Los Angeles Times

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1976 Palms-Culver City gasoline pipeline explosion

June 16, 1976: After construction workers puncture a buried gasoline pipeline, the resulting explosion and fire levels a full city block.

Staff writers John Hurst and David Rosenzweig reported on the explosion in the June 17, 1976, Los Angeles Times:

A wall of fire, touched off when an underground gasoline line was ruptured by workmen, roared through a block of Venice Blvd. in the Palms-Culver City area Wednesday, destroying businesses and apartments and leaving at least two dead and 26 injured.

Stores and a half dozen automobiles were engulfed by the flames spewing from the high-pressure gasoline line.

The entire north side of the 9500 block of Venice Blvd. was wiped out.

One person was reported killed and burned beyond recognition when flames enveloped a moving automobile. The victim was believed to be a woman…

The blast that leveled the north side of Venice and shattered windows along the south side came at 10:34 a.m. when an excavation machine on a state street-widening project struck a buried Standard Oil Co. 8-inch pipeline.

The machine had been digging a trench along the center divider of Venice Blvd.

The gasoline, under 600 pounds of pressure per square inch, shot up like a fountain and then formed a mist that seemed to hang in the air for about 90 seconds.

Then came the explosion.

Large fireballs were hurled. Thick black smoke billowed 300 feet into the air.

All seven buildings on the block were demolished–including a cinderblock store-and-apartment building at Cardiff Ave. where 27 persons reported lived…

The heat was so intense, said Stanley Steinberg, 49, owner of Armand’s Sewing Machine Co. on the southwest corner of Venice and Bagley, that a telephone and some of the machines actually melted.

A dozen ambulances rushed victims to at least three hospitals–County-USC Medical Center, Brotman Memorial Hospital and the Sherman Oaks Community Hospital burn center–as firemen fought the blaze for an hour before bringing it under control.

The critically injured were variously reported to number anywhere from four to eight, but by last night the count was not given officially…

Nine people died in the explosion and fires. Three months later state law created DigAlert. Before contractors or private citizens begin any digging project, DigAlert must be contacted.

For more information check out the DigAlert website.

scott.harrison@latimes.com

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