06 February 2013

La Vida Mineral Springs Bathhouse Explosion in 1963

In the 15 September 1963 edition of the Los Angeles Times is an article titled, "Nine Injured, Two Gravely, in Blast at Resort."  The piece went on to say that the previous day at 2:45 p.m., a water heater in the basement of the two-story bathhouse exploded.  While there was no fire resulting from the calamity, the effects of the explosion were such that the "first and second floors of the bathhouse were blasted into shambles."

Deputies with the Orange County Sheriff's Department reported that there were some twenty people in the building, most in the dressing rooms, but none actually in the bath area.  Other guests were in nearby hotel cottages and the pool, within about a hundred feet of the bathhouse, and strongly felt the blast, but were unhurt.

Of the nine injured, two guests with minor injuries were transported to La Mirada Hospital.  Seven others were taken to St. Jude's Hospital in Fullerton, including two guests and three employees, one, 17-year old attendant Jimmie Dale Gray, who lived at the resort, being released quickly after treatment for minor injuries.  A masseur, Robert Paque of Orange, suffered a broken right arm and foot injuries, while physical therapist Ernest Brown of La Habra, had leg wounds.

The two badly injured persons, however, were, indeed, gravely wounded.  Mamie Slaton, a 51-year old attendant at La Vida and a resident of Yorba Linda, was so badly hurt that both legs were amputated by surgeons at St. Jude's.  Physical therapist and La Vida resident, Nina Lackey, age 60, was also facing amputation of one of them due to the severity of her wounds.

While officers on scene could not speculate on the cause of the explosion and what the financial loss would be, the paper reported "that the bathhouse is probably a total loss." 

The bathhouse referred to in this article is probably the same pictured in a 1928 postcard that was featured in this blog in the Fall of 2009.   Click here to see that post and note the window opening for the basement, in which the heater that exploded was located.

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