Kingman, AZ Tank Car Explodes In Town, July 1973

View Of Town Propane Blast In Kingman


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, 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


i was also 10 when this happened

we lived at 1610 fairgrounds with my grandmother, it was
so loud even in our house i was hiding under the sink because i didnt know what was going on. I got to see the park they dedicated when i was there for my cousins funeral a few years ago, the park is amazing.

My father was also a

My father was also a volunteer firefighter in Bullhead City, who wen to help in Kingman. Seeing them go, when we knew what ha happened, was very frightening!

I was 11 my 16 year old

I was 11 my 16 year old brother kept saying it was going to explode but our car had a flat and we were right across the street and the guys changing it could not replace it fast enough, My father a medical person had to go work at the hospital. We were evacuated to a woman's house who kept telling me that God want us to die and I could not stop crying. This was the worst experience of my life. my younger sister does not remember any of it thankfully.

I wasa witness to this

I wasa witness to this event---had passed by on the truck route when the Fire Dept arrived and thern I pulled into the Husky truck stop parking lot to observe when I witnessed 3 guys climb up on top of the tanker The Tanker was on a siding all by itself---the flame was coming out of a pressure relief valve on top of the rail car---absolutely harmless---the firemen turned the valve which reduced the flow of leaking gas and as I walked into the cafe, I told my co-driver that the thing would blow if they shut it down because the car would not contain the pressure---it BLEW and we ran out the side door and left town---IT was the fire dept that created that disaster by doing everything wrong---I should know because I trained for a year on the very same equipment they arrived with. Sorry about the loss of life but untrained volunteer fireman was the cause---


i was there we lost the high school principal and many other i remember the mushroom fire

I was a resident of Kingman when this happened

I was telling a co worker today about this event and decided to look it up. The day this happend my brother Ken and I worked together, we could see the smoke from the flames from miles away. Ken was a volunteer fireman and went to report in. Ken spent the night fighting brush fires caused by this explosion. Myself I was a member of the 855th MP detachment there in Kingman. There was about 14 of us guardsmen that showed up for duty that night and we had been tasked with searching the buildings and the areas around the explosion site. Later myself and SSG Tharpe was located across the highway near Charlie Lums bar at an intersection stopping people from coming into the area. About 2300 that night A woman came screaming down the street in histerics. We got her calmed down enough for her to tell us her husband had died in thier home. We went and investigated the situation and found that her husband had indeed died while lying in his bed. We found out later that the man had been outside when the blast came but was not burned, the doctors told the man's wife the shock from the explosion had caused him to have a delayed heart attack. This incident was a very tragic event that people of Kingman has yet to forget. I no longer live there myself but two of my brothers still do. As a footnote; I went to work for Doxol gas the year after driving a route truck.

My father was a volunteer

My father was a volunteer fireman in Bullhead City...he was among the many that responded to help with this disaster...very tragic.

Kingman Blast

I was 15 at the time , we were driving thru from Chicago. Saw the fire coming out of the tanker, dad pulled the Olds 98 into a lot across the street. Maybe 100 yards away. Watching the firemen spraying I beleive water onto the tanker. It was flaring up . shotting flames into the sky. Dad had me get out and get the camera out of the trunk. Just then a police officer came to the lot we were parked in and said, everyone out now, we are evacuating the area. Got in the car and it blew. Big mushroom cloud above us, burned the hair off of Dad's arm. Got out of there in a nic of time. Came back a few days later, the lot we were in was totally burned up. Was quite an experience. I m so sorry for the lives lost. Cannot beleive how vivid the day is to me now 36 years later.

He was the longest survivor,

He was the longest survivor, but did eventually pass.

I was 10yrs. old and

I was 10yrs. old and standing right across the street watching the tanker burn. My friends mother told me and him to get back in the car. She said she felt something was going to go wrong. We didn't get 1/8 of a mile down the road when that tanker went up. I"ll never forget it .. the explosion went out and then a great big mushroom cloud of flames shot into the air. I often wondered if that man that we were standing with survived the blast.. I guess I'll never know.