On July 5, 1930, at 4:30 p.m., an explosion erupted at Frank Cimino’s fireworks factory in Neptune Township, killing four people and injuring four. The blast could be heard for miles and was followed immediately by a series of additional explosions. Sheets of flame spread out and set fire to the nearby woods in the sparsely settled area. The explosion ripped the roofs from the buildings, showering fire and blazing fireworks, and causing 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 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 quickly debunked, 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, N.J., July 6, 1930, P. 1.
Four Dead, Four Badly Burned in Fireworks Blast. (1930). The Freehold Transcript, Freehold, N.J., July 11, 1930, P. 17.
Staff Correspondent. (1930). Hundreds Visit Scene of Tragic Fireworks Explosion. The Daily Record, Long Branch, N.J., July 8, 1930, P. 3.
Image source: Staff Correspondent. (1930). Bolt Kills One; Explosion Takes Four. Long Branch Daily Record, Long Branch, N.J., July 7, 1930, P. 1.