James A. Hampton saved an indeterminate number of persons from an impending explosion, Norton, Massachusetts, February 23, 1999. Hampton, 32, truck driver, was the driver of an aluminum box truck carrying a cargo of liquid oxygen that was contained under pressure in tanks, including a 400-gallon tank that was half full. As he began to cross an overpass that spanned a heavily traveled interstate highway, Hampton saw flames issuing from the vents in the truck’s cargo box. Rather than stop in the breakdown lane, Hampton continued driving the burning truck, in search of an open space, despite believing that an explosion of the oxygen tanks was imminent. After proceeding about 1,200 feet, he turned into a field at a farm, then jumped out of the truck and fled. A massive explosion of the truck followed within seconds, demolishing the vehicle, throwing molten aluminum in all directions, and scattering debris over a wide area. Although the nearby farmhouse, which was occupied, and outbuildings of the farm sustained fire damage, no one was injured.
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