Kingman, Prescott fire departments share a common, anguished bond

'We know how you feel,' KFD assistant chief says of Yarnell Hill fire that killed 19

JOANNA DODDER/Courier<BR>
Kingman Assistant Fire Chief Keith Eaton, left, presents Arizona State Fire School Training Committee Chair Bob Hansen with a plaque commemorating the Doxol explosion, to benefit the school’s auction. The plaque features metal from the railroad tank that exploded in the 1973 disaster.

JOANNA DODDER/Courier<BR> Kingman Assistant Fire Chief Keith Eaton, left, presents Arizona State Fire School Training Committee Chair Bob Hansen with a plaque commemorating the Doxol explosion, to benefit the school’s auction. The plaque features metal from the railroad tank that exploded in the 1973 disaster.

MESA - Forty years after Kingman lost 11 of its firefighters, Kingman Fire Chief Joe Dorner assured Prescott firefighters and families that their newly fallen firefighters would not be forgotten.

Dorner spoke Thursday at the Arizona State Fire School in Mesa about what's come to be known as the Doxol Disaster.

He said Kingman now has a special connection with Prescott, after Prescott lost 19 of its Granite Mountain Hotshots June 30 on the Yarnell Hill wildfire.

"Our hearts really went out this past year for the folks in Prescott," Eaton said. "We know how you feel."

Dorner's uncle Butch Henry was among those killed on July 5, 1973 when a Doxol Gas Co. railroad car exploded as its propane was being transferred to a storage tank. Many of the firefighters were volunteers and prominent members of the community, such as the high school principal and business leaders. The Doxol Gas Co. manager also died. Ninety-nine others were injured.

Dorner was joined Thursday by several other family members of the fallen firefighters, as well as Assistant Fire Chief Keith Eaton.

Kingman donated several plaques that honor its firefighters to the State Fire School's auction items, which the State Fire School in turn donated to the Prescott Fire Department. Pieces of metal from the storage tank are embedded in the center of the plaques.

The Kingman disaster was a major catalyst for the creation of the State Fire School a year later.

Photos flashed across a big screen Thursday as Eaton described all the memorials to the firefighters across Kingman: 11 cypress trees, a display at the Mohave Museum of History and Arts, a city hall memorial, Firefighter Memorial Park, banners on light poles at the approximate locations where each firefighter fell, and a high school named after fallen firefighter and high school principal/coach Richard Lee Williams with the "Volunteers" mascot.

Three years ago, Core Construction and its subcontractors paid for and built a $200,000 memorial when city fathers weren't sure they could raise the money.

"This is something we visit often," Eaton said. The department's Pipes and Drums Corps practices there, and sometimes firefighters just go there to hang out.

"You walk onto that (memorial), and you feel these guys," Eaton said.

The name of firefighter Terry Cecil Anderson also was added to the memorial. He died in a training accident in 1932.

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