Rillito, AZ Missile Silo Explosion, July 1962


Rillito, Ariz. (AP) -- An explosion in a Titan missile silo near this small southeastern Arizona community set off a fire and injured 20 men Sunday night authorities said.
Five of the workers, GENE LASSETIER, 34; KENNETY MARBERRY, 41; FRANK MANVILLE, 61; ROBERT BENTON, 56, and RAYMOND LANHAM, 40, all of Tucson, were hospitalized for smoke inhalation.
The other workmen were treated and released.
Titan officials said the explosion occurred in a switch box located on the third level, 50 feet underground.
Officials said the trouble apparently started when a switch gear started tossing out a series of electrical flashes. A fire burned briefly, but was quickly extinguished, they said.
The officials estimated damage at $2,000.
Some 80 men were working on the night shift when the explosion occurred. An electrician, who declined to give his name, said a lid usually placed over the level's entrance, was left open. When closed, the area is sealed off.
"If the lid had been on there, we'd be a bunch of dead guys," he said.

New Mexican Santa Fe 1962-07-23