Yesteryear: Honoring the fallen
Doxol explosion took 12 of Kingman's best and brightest
KINGMAN - It has been 42 years since the Doxol Explosion, when on July 5, 1973, 12 men lost their lives and nearly 100 were injured when a propane railroad car exploded on a railroad siding near Andy Devine Avenue.
The explosion was a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion, or BLEVE, 1,000 feet in diameter and felt over five miles away. It was started when a worker trying to fix a leak ignited the leaking propane.
The tragedy is well documented in Kingman's history. Fireman's Park is dedicated to those men. Lee Williams High School is named after the principal who died trying to fight that fire. "The eleven who have fallen" is chanted in creeds before home games for the appropriately nicknamed Volunteers of LWHS, honoring their fellow volunteers who died on that July day.
I wasn't sure if, or how, I could approach such a tragedy. It's very well documented: hundreds of pages and files on the subject are accessible online and in the library.
Growing up here, I knew about the disaster. There was a disconnect, however, between the disaster and the people involved. I spent some time reading through their obituaries and letters written to the paper to get an idea of who these men were, and what made them drop what they were doing that summer day and rush to fight a fire.
Here are the names of those men, and a little about who they were and the lives they lived pulled from the obituaries in 1973.
Joe Chambers, 37: Joe owned and operated the Chambers Exxon Station and was a volunteer with the Kingman Fire Department with the rank of lieutenant. He was born and raised in Kingman, graduating from Mohave County Union High School in 1955. Chambers was a legacy firefighter: his grandfather was one of the first firefighters in the area. He was a member of the Elks Lodge, active in Little League and the Bulldog Booster Club, and helped establish the Kingman Jaycees. He left a wife and two sons behind.
Butch Henry, 28: Butch was born and raised in Kingman just after World War II wrapped up. In 1973, he was the manager at ICX Inc., and was serving as a volunteer fireman with the Kingman Fire Department. He was also a legacy firefighter: his father, George Henry, retired from Kingman Fire after a 30-year career. He left behind his wife, one son and one daughter.
Roger Hubka, 27: Roger was one of the first firefighters on the scene, and was one of the three killed in the initial explosion. He served as a volunteer with the Kingman Fire Department. Roger came to Kingman from Wisconsin, where he worked in an authorized Ford garage for several years before picking up work at McCarthy Motors in Kingman. Hubka was a Kingman Little League coach and loved to play football before he was injured. He left behind a wife he just married that past February.
Donald G. Webb, 30: Donald was born in Texas and came to Kingman when he was young. He was a varsity football and track star and a member of the Lettermans Club. Donald owned and managed the Eastside Shell Service Station and was serving as Lecturing Knight of the Kingman Elk's Lodge, and was a volunteer with the Kingman Fire Department. He had just recently joined the Kingman Rotary Club and wrote for them in the Miner. Don left behind a wife, a son, and a daughter.
Alan Hansen, 34: Alan was a Highway Patrolman and a volunteer for the Kingman Fire Department. He was born in New York, but moved to Kingman and graduated from Mohave County Union High School in 1957. He attended the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University. He also served in the Army and was a member of the Arizona National Guard. Alan left behind a wife, a son, and a daughter.
John Campbell, 42: John was the assistant public works director for the city of Kingman and a volunteer for the Kingman Fire Department. He had been working for the city for 9 years when he died. John was very active in Little League, serving as an umpire and as a coach for 15 years. He left behind a wife, a daughter, and two sons.
Jimmy Cox, 56: Jimmy was the assistant chief of the Kingman Fire Department when he died. He moved to Kingman from Texas and served in the Army Air Corps at the Kingman Air Base. He was discharged as a technical sergeant. Jimmy was working at the Kingman Bake Shop in 1973, and was a member of the Kingman Fire Department since 1951. He was a member of the American Legion and was known for his love of music. Jimmy left behind a wife, a daughter, two sons, and four grandchildren.
William Casson, 52: William was a captain of the Kingman Fire Department when he died. William was the district manager for Citizens Utilities' electric division in Kingman. He was born and raised in Kingman, graduating with letters in all sports each year from Kingman High School and moving on to the University of Arizona on an athletic scholarship. World War II broke out while he was in college, and William went on to serve in the Army Signal Corps in the Sicilian and Italian campaigns. Back home, he was a director of the Chamber of Commerce and the Kingman Rotary Club, and was a member of the American Legion, Catholic Church and Bulldog Boosters. William left behind a wife, four sons, and two daughters.
Marvin Mast, 42: Marvin was the manager of Doxol Gas Co. in Kingman and had just moved to the city one year prior from Paris, Ill. He was a member of the Moose Lodge and a veteran of the Korean War. Marvin left behind a wife, a son, a daughter, and two step-daughters.
Chris Sanders, 38: Chris was a fire engineer for the Kingman Fire Department at the time of his death. He previously worked at the Ford Proving Grounds and had been a resident of Mohave County for nine years. Chris was the acting executive director of the Mohave Big Brothers Inc. and was on the student advisory council for the Community Schools program. He was an active swimmer and played water polo. Chris left behind a wife, a son, two stepsons, and two stepdaughters.
Art Stringer, 25: Art was a fire engineer for the Kingman Fire Department when he died. Art grew up in Yuma and Phoenix before serving in the U.S. Army in 1967 on a three-year tour, including one in Vietnam as a helicopter crew chief. His unit received an air medal and a presidential citation. When he returned home, he joined the 997th Aviation Company of the Arizona National Guard. He left behind a wife.
Richard Lee Williams, 47: Lee was a volunteer for the Kingman Fire Department at the time of his death. He was the principal of Kingman High School and was born and raised in Kingman. Lee served in the U.S. Navy V-12 program during World War II, and received his B.S. degree at Arizona State College in Flagstaff upon his return. He was a football and basketball star in college, and joined the Kingman High School staff as a social studies and physical education teacher. He coached football, baseball and basketball, and was active in the Elks Lodge, Rotary Club, American Legion and Kingman Youth Football League. Lee left behind a wife, a son and two daughters.
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