St. George, UT Oil Well Explosion, Mar 1935
10 KILLED IN PREMATURE EXPLOSION AT UTAH OIL WELL.
BLAST HURLS DERRICK UPON SPECTATORS.
DEADLY CHARGE FALLS INTO UNFINISHED WELL; DOZEN OTHERS INJURED.
St. George, Utah -- (AP) -- A premature explosion at an oil well killed 10 persons last night and injured at least a dozen others gathered to watch the spectacular "shooting" of the first well in this district.
A deadly charge of nitro-glycerine, dropped into the unfinished well, exploded prematurely, ripping the derrick from its moorings and hurled it onto the crowd surrounding the well. The terrific blast rocked the country-side five miles south of here.
Scores were thrown to the ground. Others were knocked down in the rush to escape the blinding sheet of flame.
Among the victims were GEORGE ALSOP, general manager of the Arrowhead Oil Corporation which was drilling the well, and his wife.
The others were:
JOSEPH EMPEY, electrician.
GAIL NICHOLSON, Salt Lake City, Empey's son-in-law.
JOSEPH KITTERMAN, Salt Lake City.
RAY B. NELSON, dairyman.
MRS. JOSEPH SNOW, wife of a prominent attorney and former state legislator.
C. M. FLICKENGER, oil driller in charge of the
MISS LEAH COTTAM.
Ellis J. Pickett, another attorney, witnessed the tragedy from his motor car, parked about 120 feet from the well.
The force of the blast tore the top from his car.
"Flames shot into the air; the derrick was splintered and in a moment had toppled down," Pickett said. "It struck a number of persons gathered near the well. There were terrified screams of women and children and groans of many who were seriously injured."
S. L. Dixon, auditor of the Arrowhead Corporation, said work prior to the explosion had been "very carefully handled."
"Mr. Flickenger (one of the dead), an expert in his line, was brought in at an unusually high salary to shoot the well and every safeguard was placed around the final work."
"The reason for the premature blast of course, has not been definitely determined, except that it was what is known as a surface explosion, the nitro-glycerine exploding before it had been sunk very far into the well."
Mansfield News Journal Ohio 1935-03-07