Kingman, AZ Tank Car Explodes In Town, July 1973
4 DIE, 70 HURT IN KINGMAN GAS BLAST.
Kingman, Ariz. (AP) -- "Suddenly the tank exploded and the air was filled 200 feet high with burning material," said Fire Chief CHARLES POTTER after a railroad tank car filled with propane gas caught fire and exploded here.
The explosion, and fire Thursday killed three fireman instantly and injured 70 other persons. A fourth critically burned person died shortly before 11 a.m. EDT at a Phoenix hospital. His name was withheld pending notification of kin. Twenty-five persons were hospitalized.
The fire blocked east-west highway and railroad traffic, destroyed two buildings and damaged three others in this northwest Arizona town.
The propane gas exploded minutes after firemen began fighting a small blaze in the tank car. Flames and metal shreds were showered over adjoining buildings, lawns and fields. The blast shoved the tank car a quarter of a mile and dug a crater 10 feet deep.
"All that fire," said Capt. JOHN HOWELL. "It seemed to last an eternity, but I supposed it lasted 30 seconds."
The accident occurred on a siding of the Santa Fe Railroad, which parallels U.S. 66 through the town. Authorities said the propane apparently was being unloaded at the time. Two of the dead, ROGER HUBKA and BILL CASSON, were Kingman volunteer firemen. The third, JIMMY COX, was an assistant chief.
The flames set numerous brush fires in addition to burning the office of Doxel Suburban Gas Co., destination of the gas, two service stations, a beer warehouse and a small supermarket.
The victims jammed the Mohave County General Hospital. Planes and helicopters flew the most seriously burned victims to hospitals at Phoenix, 175 miles to the southeast, and Las Vegas, Nev., 100 miles to the northwest.
Slurry bombers, stationed here by the Bureau of Land Management to fight range fires, dumped fire retardent mixtures on the flames which spread across the highway. Helicopters were sent by the highway patrol and two Air Force bases.
State Fire Marshal ROBERT J. ROSS traveled to Kingman to investigate the explosion and fire.
Among those hospitalized were father-and-son firefighters HUGH T. STRINGER, 50, and ARTHUR STRINGER, 24, both of Kingman. A spokesman at Southern Nevada Memorial Hospital in Las Vegas said both were in very critical condition with third degree burns over most of their bodies.
Maricopa County Hospital officials in Phoenix said MARVIN MAST, 42, JOE CHAMBERS, 37, manager of Doxol gas, and ALLEN HANSEN, 34, of the Arizona Highway Patrol, were hospitalized.
Arizona Daily Sun Flagstaff 1973-07-06
KINGMAN TOLL HITS 6.
Kingman, Ariz (AP) -- The death toll has risen to six in Thursday's explosion of a propane tank car which rocked this western Arizona community of 7,000.
More than 70 others were injured, and seven remained in critical condition today, hospital spokesmen said.
Among those remaining in critical condition is RICHARD LEE WILLIAMS, who was burned over 70 per cent of his body.
The 42-year-old principal of Kingman High School earned his B.S. degree in education from Northern Arizona University in 1949 and his master's degree in 1961. He was a letterman in NAU in basketball and football in 1948-49. His wife is the former JEANNIE FLYNN of Flagstaff.
ARTHUR STRINGER, 24, a volunteer fireman from Kingman, was the latest to die. A spokesman at Southern Memorial Nevada Hospital in Las Vegas said STRINGER, who had suffered burns over 100 per cent of his body, died late Friday night. His father, HUGH T. STRINGER, 50, also a volunteer fireman, was one of those listed in critical condition.
MARVIN MAST, 42, and JOE CHAMBERS, 37, both of Kingman, died earlier Friday of burns received in the blast which rocked this western Arizona town of 7,000.
Killed instantly were ROGER HUBKA, 27, BILL CASSON, 52, and JIMMY COX, 55, all of Kingman.
"This is a small town, and everybody's affected. It's horrible, everybody knows everybody. Everybody knows the guys in the volunteer fire department," said Kingman native JAY GATES III.
GEORGE DEMPSEY, executive director of the Arizona Corporation Commission, said it appeared the blast resulted from a failure in a release valve as the propane was being transfered from the tank car to trucks. The Doxel Suburban Gas Co., where the accident occurred, was demolished and two other buildings were damaged.
DEMPSEY said a Federal Railroad Administration explosive expert was at work trying to reconstruct the circumstances of the blast.
"We won't really know what happened until his investigation is complete," said DEMPSEY.
Arizona Daily Sun Flagstaff 1973-07-07