Monday, August 31, 2009

Propane, Cut-Offs, and Tube Socks

Tom Wirt — a.k.a. Jar With Most — appears to have been just about everywhere in Flint with his camera in the seventies and eighties. He recently posted these shots of a memorable liquid propane explosion in 1976. The photos not only capture the disaster, but they chronicle Flint fashion in the seventies as well.

Here are the details from Jar's Flickr page, which has several more photos:
On Thursday, August 19, 1976, at about 7:30 p.m., a tanker truck carrying liquid propane crashed over a guardrail on the I-69 entrance to northbound I-75 just south of the Miller Road exit in Flint Township, Michigan, and exploded. Police speculated that the propane truck driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel.

The propane truck driver, an auto haulaway truck driver, a Flint woman, and a mother and daughter from Grand Blanc, were seriously burned in the accident. As many as 25 other cars were burned, but none of their drivers required hospitalization.

The propane tanker hit a guardrail on the I-69 entrance ramp to northbound I-75, tumbled over it, and exploded. The rear portion of the tank was blown a quarter of a mile away. The truck cab and the driver were blown back to the I-69 entrance ramp to I-75, about 50 feet above the gully where the tanker exploded.




11 comments:

  1. Remarkably...the fashions in Flint are much the same today!! j/k

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  2. This explosion rattled the light fixtures in our house and caused the dog to bark. We lived 7 miles away.

    By far the greatest fashion statement in the pictures, other than the many topless males, is the tube top in the first picture. In the 1970's I was so envious of my neighbor who had a pink Love's Baby Soft tube top.

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  3. In the first bridge crowd scene, I swear you could change the background to 'Bushwood Country Club' and it would look like a scene from Caddyshack.

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  4. couldn't help but notice the car hauler full of imports....another somber reminder of the challenges presented to flint....another sad momento a firebird torched......funny to see the masses of people right on top of the accident seen....today you couldn't get within 500 yds until haz-mat had done their thing....i'm glad we got away from guys wearing hot-pants

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  5. As I recall that I-69 overpass was not very old at the time. It had to be replaced because the heat warped the girders.

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  6. Brings back memories of a good friend who's wife and daughter were badly burned in this accident.

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  7. I'm with rward: you link to "tube socks" but not to "tube tops"? I'm sure that the latter would result in many more pageviews via Google.

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  8. I don't want to sound too morose, but.... I'm struck by the the playground kids in the second photo who all seem to be focused on the explosion, even those two in full back-swing. It conjures up erie and disturbing thoughts of Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

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  9. My girlfriend and I were pulling into the Genesee Valley Mall parking lot when the explosion happened. We had just turned left off Linden and it looked and felt like it happened just on the other side of the mall on Miller; the fire ball was that big.

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  10. The daughter went to high school in Grand Blanc. After the lawsuits were settled, I remember seeing her around Grand Blanc in a new Corvette Pace Car. It would't begin to make up for her suffering.

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  11. I have often wondered how the burn victims were doing. That night I was returning from classes at EMU and missed being in that accident by 5 minutes.

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