Secrets revealed: Longtime Kingman resident speaks and shows photos of the most difficult day in Kingman’s history: July 5, 1973
Jim Mc Milon was busy on this day 45 years ago when 13 people, including 11 volunteer firefighters, perished in the Doxol explosion.
Mc Milon hauled propane, gasoline and worked at Hobbs Truck Stop, in the 2500 block of Andy Devine Avenue, which was 50-75 yards away from the railroad car that was on fire.
“It was right at lunchtime or after when we were notified that a tank car was on fire,” Mc Milon said. “I went out and looked, and this thing would shoot fire up and stop. Then it would shoot fire up, so that meant the valve was defective. We knew it was going to blow.”
Propane was being unloaded from a railroad car into storage tanks housed by Doxol Gas Western Energy Company’s bulk plant. Workers tried to tighten a fitting that was allowing gas to leak by hitting it with a wrench. This caused a spark that ignited the propane and started a fire.
“It’s the fifth of July, so there is nothing but tourists,” Mc Milon said. “My boss came in and said to get everyone out of there.”
It’s the fifth of July, so there is nothing but tourists,” Mc Milon said. “My boss came in and said to get everyone out of there.”
Mc Milon, his boss and others got busy getting people and machinery away. The parking lot behind Hobbs was emptied of the trucks that were parked there, and the people in the restaurant were cleared out.
Mc Milon and a small group of three others went into the truck stop and sat on the floor of the concrete-block building. His boss had just turned the corner in front of the restaurant when the explosion occurred. He was burned on his side that was exposed to the blast.
“It was from the heat wave, not the fire,” Mc Milon said.
Another man had been in the parking lot trying to move people along and out of the way of the coming devastation. He survived by diving under his pickup truck, though he, too, suffered burns on his exposed side.
“The truck stop was the furthest thing I could find when I knew that thing was going to blow,” Mc Milon said. “It sounded like a bomb going off. A really big bomb. It made a hissing sound plus the explosion, and it shook like an earthquake.