PERINTON HONORS TWELVE LIVES LOST IN THE 1942 ROCHESTER FIREWORKS COMPANY EXPLOSION, INSTALLS MEMORIAL PLAQUE

Plaque is located on Whitney Road, on the site of the tragedy; Recorded as one of the most disastrous non-residence fires in Rochester-area history; 12 killed while manufacturing war products for WWII

Perinton Town Supervisor Ciaran Hanna today was joined by members of the Perinton Town Board, East Rochester Mayor John Alfieri, Town Historian Bill Poray, County Legislator John Baynes, and Fairport Mayor Julie Domaratz in a ceremony to install a plaque honoring the 12 lives lost in the Rochester Fireworks Company Fire of 1942. The Rochester Fireworks Company, located near the corner of Baird Road and Whitney Road, began producing war products such as Signal Kits during World War II. On November 6, 1942, an accident in the factory caused a fire to start, and 12 individuals tragically lost their lives. It was our region’s only major disaster during World War II.

“Over the course of our nation’s history, we’ve seen many war-related tragedies, however, very few have been as close to home as the Rochester Fireworks Company Fire in Perinton,” said Hanna. “Our own Perinton, Fairport and East Rochester residents were among those who stepped up to help manufacture war products in WWII. Tragically, 12 of them died – 11 of them women helping out the war effort at home – our community’s own “Rosie the Riveters”. It is an honor to join our community to install a plaque that will forever stand in memory of those who died in the tragedy. It will also stand as an enduring symbol of the immeasurable sacrifices of so many in defense of our freedom here at home.”

On November 6th, 1942, a “puff” of smoke at the Rochester Fireworks Factory was noticed by a neighbor on Whitney Road. The explosion and fire that ensued would take the lives of 12 Fairport and East Rochester residents. These 12 people were among the civilian support for World War II, and 11 of them were women, as more women entered the workforce, especially in manufacturing with the rise of munitions-making jobs.

During World War II, the Rochester Fireworks Company expanded its work force to make war products such as Signal Kits for the Army and Navy. In fact, in 1944, the company received a commendation from Rear Admiral G.F. Hussey, United States Navy Chief, after the Signal Kits made in the Perinton factory helped rescue two army pilots forced to escape danger by parachute.

“Something truly important in our nation’s history happened here in Perinton. Twelve residents gave their lives, in service to their Country – they are American heroes,” said Bill Poray, Perinton Town Historian. “Factories all across America were turned over to the war effort during WWII. So many of our residents don’t know that happened here in Perinton, but now they will. This historic marker helps to tell the story and shows our respect and appreciation for those who lost their lives.”

Many of the individuals in attendance at the ceremony were the family members of those killed in the fire, including the Morabito Family.

Below are the names and ages of all twelve Fairport and East Rochester residents killed in the 1942 tragedy:

Angeline Morabito, 33

Fred Steeley, 26

Evelyn M. Bigelow, 26

Angeline Mandell, 31

Viola Close, 60

Mary Parsons, 48

Bertha Archambo, 53

Evelyn Ellis, 48

Rose Costanzo, 42

Freda Cox, 37

Yolanda Covino, 29

Minnie Brotsch, 56

The newly installed plaque is located on Whitney Road, on the site of the Rochester Fireworks Company tragedy.