July 19, 1898
Six blown to eternity
This morning at 5:18 o’clock the works of the Western Fuse and Explosives Company at Melrose, east of Fruitvale, were blown to atoms by a Chinese operative, who, after murdering a brother Celestial yesterday, took refuge in the powder magazine of the place. At the house mentioned he offered to surrender, and when deputy sheriffs went to receive him, he fired the magazine. The explosion blew the murderer and Deputies White, Cameron, Woodsum, Koch and Lerri into eternity. Mrs. Hill of San Francisco was also killed. Forty houses around were wrecked.
Gung Ung Chang, who was employed in the works, had killed Ham Si Sing yesterday afternoon in a quarrel over Chinese lottery tickets. He then defied the officers of the law who went to arrest him.
The murderer fled into the magazine, which contained five tons of giant powder, barricaded the door and threatened to blow up the magazine if any one came to arrest him.
Deputy Sheriff Charles White, son of Sheriff White, in charge of a posse, consisting of Constable Gus Koch, Deputy Sheriff George Woods, Deputy Sheriff D.C. Cameron, Deputy Sheriff Smith and Deputy Sheriff Manning, Deputy Constable J.J. Leery, and Deputy Constable Harry Cramer, were on the scene of the shooting shortly after the murder, and kept guard all night over the Chinese, who was within his stronghold. All the officers were armed with rifles.
After repeated demands to surrender had been made, to all of which the same reply came, “If you come in here I will blow up the magazine,” the officers retired for the night within the private office of the company about twenty yards away.
This morning at 5 o’clock Deputy Sheriff Chas. White, with several of the others, returned from breakfast and the Chinese said he wanted to talk with him. White spoke to him. The Chinese said he was willing to come out. White and the others approached him, when the explosion took place.
This was at 5:18 o’clock. In an instant a terrific explosion occurred, killing Deputies White, Koch, Woodsum, Cameron, Lerri and Mrs. Sadie Hill, and blowing the Chinese to atoms, so small that few pieces have been found.
Charles White’s body was fearfully mutilated. It was found nearly 300 yards away. Gus Koch was also badly disfigured and was killed instantly.
D.C. Cameron was fearfully disfigured, but lived long enough to be taken in the patrol wagon to the hospital, where he died.
Mrs. Hill was visiting a Mrs. Pride, who lived across the street from the magazine. The dead woman lived in San Francisco at the King’s daughters’ home, and was killed in the falling debris of the house, which burned down. All the buildings soon were on fire. The works are completely wrecked. Four houses are also blown down and forty wrecked.
Deputy Sheriff Fred Sherrott and Deputy Sheriff Ed White escaped, but are painfully wounded.