On July 5, 1930, at 4:30 p.m., an explosion erupted at Frank Cimino’s fireworks factory in Neptune Township, killing four persons and injuring four more. The blast could be heard for miles around and was followed immediately by a series of other explosions. Sheets of flames spread out and set fire to an adjoining woods in the sparsely settled area. The explosion ripped off the roof of the buildings, showering fire and blazing fireworks, and caused general panic in the Asbury Park region. “Bombs, rockets and whirling sparklers sprinkled the neighborhood,” according to one news report. All four of the factory buildings were destroyed.
The state commissioner of labor declared Cimino to be guilty of several law violations. But prosecutors did not file charges, noting that Cimino had lost his father and two children, with his wife and another son hospitalized from the blast. “He’s had quite a bit of punishment whether he was involved in any carelessness or not,” the prosecutor said.
The investigation after found that the plant was licensed and had been in operation for 20 years. Initially, a story emerged that a child had caused the disaster, but this was debunked fairly quickly, as was a theory that Cimino’s enemies were at work…but in the end, no cause was ever confirmed.
3 KILLED, 1 MISSING, AS BLAST RAZES N.J. FIREWORKS PLANT. (1930). Courier-Post (Camden), July 6, 1930, P. 1.
Four Dead, Four Badly Burned in Fireworks Blast. The Freehold Transcript, July 11, 1930, P. 17.
Staff Correspondent. (1930). Hundreds Visit Scene of Tragic Fireworks Explosion. The Daily Record (Long Branch), July 8, 1930, P. 3.