This fire has intrigued me from when I first earned about it as a very young Firefighter, so I wanted to pass it on as today is the anniversary.
June 26 1964: Marshall’s Creek (PA, about 2 hours NW of NYC) Firefighter’s responded to the community fire siren sounding-it was a tractor-trailer fire…the rear wheels of the tractor were on fire. The tractor-trailer had no cargo markings on it, so the Marshall’s Creek Fire Company members had no idea what was inside because the driver fled the scene, What followed forever changed the methods in how truck’s carry cargo.
The American Cyanamid truck that was carrying 15 tons of explosives and 99 blasting caps when it caught fire and exploded shortly after 0400 hours, as Marshall’s Creek Firefighters were preparing to attack the fire when the massive explosion occurred.
Firefighters Earl Miller, Leonard Mosier and Edward Hines were killed in the Line of Duty. 3 civilians were killed as well. The explosion also rocked a nearby reptile farm. Many exotic snakes got loose, while others were killed in the blast. It was literally a bomb going off and a crater was formed that was 10 feet deep and 40 feet wide.
An ICC investigation focused on why three explosives warning placards that were supposedly on the truck the day before weren’t there when firefighters arrived. The truck driver said they had fallen off shortly before he pulled over to deal with two flat tires, which he said apparently started to burn after he left to seek help. Others had speculated the tires were already burning because a gas station attendant smelled burned rubber on truck driver Albert Koda after he unhitched the explosives trailer and left it off Route 209′s shoulder.
An American Cyanamid official said the signs falling off at almost exactly the same place, as Koda speculated, would be “highly unusual.” Koda had disconnected his tractor from the trailer after two rear tires on the trailer went flat. He claimed he found the signs while driving to East Stroudsburg to call his employer to say he would be late in making his delivery. The placards were found under the seat in the cab of his tractor. A federal report on the blast said the signs showed no evidence of falling off the truck.
The report also concluded Koda improperly took the signs off the trailer before leaving the blast scene. He was later charged with six counts of involuntary manslaughter, but he was acquitted after a trial in Northampton County Court.
MEDIA & PHOTOS.
Learn and see more here: (Photos of the destroyed apparatus, explosion etc)
….and also learn how that fire changed fire service history.
VIDEO OF THE EXPLOSION AFTERMATH.
In early 70’s I took a ride to visit Marshall’s Creek and to learn as much as I could from those who were there. Take time to share this information, use it in drills etc.
So often younger Firefighters will ask “why do we do this, or that or why does a policy direct this…” etc…well, here ya go.
Take Care. Be careful. Pass it On.