Holly Oak, DE Two Trucks Collide, Aug 1933
As soon as the freight truck rolled over, the driver jumped and escaped injury. As he leaped from the cab, the vehicle burst into flames, which were fed by leaking gasoline and oil, the blaze spreading to WATSON'S truck several feet away.
The screams and moans of the picnickers in the other truck, most of them covered with straw and blankets, on which they were sitting, could be heard for a mile, until their voices were drowned out by the first of a series of explosions of the nitro-cellulose, which sent flames shooting high in the air and lighting the countryside around for miles.
Police of the Penny Hill station were quickly on the scene and summoned ambulances and fire companies. Many passing cars were commandeered to convey the injured to hospitals, but several that stopped close to the wreck were ignited by the succeeding explosion of the chemically-filled steel drums, whose detonations sprayed the highway with liquid fire, burning trees fifty yards away.
The force of the succeeding blasts hurled several of the Chester residents into a nearby field and they frantically fought to extinguish the flames burning their clothing. Rescuers were unable to approach the flames, but many of the young men in the party risked their lives by pulling screaming and dazed women to places of safety.
It is believed that it was in this manner that the three young men lost their lives, as the bodies of all were found to be badly seared when they reached the hospitals.
While the flames were at their height, the countryside was illuminated for miles, and scores of motorists, who stopped at the scene of tragedy, hampered the firemen, who were summoned from Claymont, Holly Oak, Brandywine Hundred and Wilmington.
Several members of the Claymont fire company risked their lives during the explosions. Disregarding the shower of fire. EDWARD ANDREWS, ANDREW CHANDLER and EARL HARGAN carried a chemical hose to the flaming debris and succeeded in quenching the flames.
JOHN STOCKTON, who lives near the scene, also displayed bravery by assisting Privates HITCHENS and BESQUICK, of the state highway patrol, who did heroic work in assisting the injured.
No water was available and the supply of chemicals carried by the various volunteer companies was exhausted before trees lining the highway and several motorcars were ignited by the intense heat. Shortly after the fire died down a heavy rain fell to complete the task which had baffled firemen for so long.
As soon as the debris cooled off the firemen and police began the search for additional victims, as it was reported at the Wilmington Hospitals that several of the party were missing. This false rumor was the result of some of the patients being transferred from one hospital to another, so that the best medical assistance available might be given.
Chester Times Pennsylvania 1933-08-21