Thursday marks 50th anniversary of Coliseum explosion

74 people killed, more than 400 injured in 1963

INDIANAPOLIS - Thursday marks the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Indiana State Fair Coliseum Explosion.

The explosion happened when propane gas leaked from a rusting tank and came in contact with an electric popcorn machine. 

In all, 74 people were killed and more than 400 people were injured. Many believe the incident remains one of the worst tragedies in Indiana history.

Former anchor Howard Caldwell was dispatched to the scene and talked about what he saw when the media was given access after the explosion. 

"They had the bodies covered and they were lying on the ice. They were there so people could come and identify," Caldwell said.

Patrick McGrath, 64, is still drawn to the photos and accounts of the explosion every Halloween. He was 14 years old at the time.

"My worst memory was when I saw a child, five or six years old, run through the crowd of people who were in a panic and trying to leave. She was crying that her mother was dead and she was covered with blood," McGrath said.

A wreath and banner will be placed outside the Coliseum at 6 a.m. Thursday. 74 lights will represent the victims who perished in the explosion.

Follow Derrik Thomas on Twitter: @derrikthomas

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