Frank Morris Wells, Sr., prevented possible explosions which might have been fatal to an indeterminate number of persons, Laurel, Mississippi, January 25, 1969. When 15 propane-filled tank cars in about the middle of a freight train were derailed while passing through a heavily populated district, fire broke out and caused a series of explosions which resulted in the death of several area residents and in extensive property damage. Wells, 43, railroad switchman, who was off duty, went to the scene. Learning that the rear section of the train could not be moved due to the brakes having locked, Wells volunteered to release the brakes because he feared additional explosions might occur with resultant fatalities. Flames continued at the wrecked cars as Wells made his way to the last standing car. He found that the pressure valve on that car, which also contained propane, had been melted by the heat. Wells then uncoupled the next car, thus allowing the train to be moved away from the burning cars before other explosions could occur. Another railroader took action which allowed the forward section of the train to be moved.
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