December 18, 2013

Twelve people perished in the Dec. 5, 1957 natural gas blast in downtown Villa Rica.
The fateful day was Thursday, December 5, 1957. People were going about their normal business on a weekday...going to the store, keeping appointments, seeing to some early Christmas shopping. Some folks were simply out to cast their ballot in municipal elections going on at the time, but shortly after 11 a.m., a natural gas explosion took the lives of 12 people and injured at least 20 others...changing the lives of so many in an instant.
In 1997, the 40th anniversary of the explosion, the Douglas Sentinel published an article recounting that fateful day. Many folks remembered the sound of the explosion...“a loud whoomp, that was more like a clap than a bang...and others said that the town suddenly looked as if it had been hit by an atom bomb.”
Around 11:00 a.m. on December 5, 1957, a natural gas leak under Berry’s Pharmacy caused an explosion that destroyed four buildings and damaged several others in Villa Rica’s downtown. The explosion killed twelve and injured twenty. The tragedy highlighted the need for both an organized local emergency response unit and the use of odor in the natural gas supply.  

Photo slideshow

In 2013, the damage is long repaired, but the tragedy won’t ever be forgotten.

“It was tragic, sad, but it’s our history and we need to remember those that were killed,” said Bailey. “We need to remember the lessons learned.”