Clinton, MO Explosion And Fire, Dec 1972



A former Atchison youth, MARK BEATTIE, 21, was among eight persons killed as a result of an explosion and fire that destroyed a half block section of the town square at Clinton, Mo., Saturday night.
MARK, son of Mr. and Mrs. James Beattie of Clinton where his father is executive vice president of the First National bank, was one of five would-be rescuers who died in attempting to free a mother and daughter trapped in one of the four buildings reduced to rubble by the initial blast, apparently due to an accumulation of natural gas.
For the past year, MARK had been employed as a construction worker for a Clinton contractor and had made his home with his parents.
It was reported that earlier Saturday, MARK had been on a hunting trip with friends and on their return to Clinton they went to the blast scene to help.
Other victims were MRS. MIKE HUNTER, 62, and her daughter, MISS DARLENE HUNTER, 27, the women trapped in the blast that wrecked the building in which they operated a boutique shop; DR. RONALD WEST, 30, a Clinton dentist; HERMAN LEROY STEWARD, 33, Clinton, and MAURICE PURVIS, a volunteer fireman from Montrose, Mo., near Clinton.
Also missing and presumed dead was EUGENE BURNS, 50, owner of an abstract company that was among seven firms destroyed in the explosion and fire.
Seven other persons were injured and four remained hospitalized today.
One of the injured was JESSE LEE JUSTIS, 46, a Missouri Public Service Co. employe who had been sent to check reports of a gas leak in the basement of one of the buildings destroyed.
Witnesses said JUSTIS was searching for the leak with BURNS and left the building moments before the explosion to get something from his truck parked outside the building. BURNS remained in the building.
The Associated Press said in a story from Clinton today that investigators have blamed the explosion on an accumulation of natural gas in one of the buildings. In Washington, a spokesman for the National Trnasportation Safety Board said a representative was being sent to Clinton to determine if the disaster fell within the board's jurisdiction.
It was expected the loss in the blast and fire would total more than $250,000. The explosion occurred at 6:08 p.m., about an hour after an odor of gas had been noticed by one occupant of the building who had notified the gas service company of the gas leak.
Clinton is about 70 miles southeast of Kansas City, Mo., and is the county seat of Henry county. It has a population of about 8,000.

Atchison Daily Globe Kansas 1972-12-11