William Joel Chandler 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. The forward section of the train could not be moved due to the brakes having locked. Chandler, 49, railroad foreman of engines, who was aboard the train, feared that if the cars which had not been derailed were not moved, additional explosions might occur with resultant fatalities. He left the engine and started back along the track as flames raged over the wrecked cars. Chandler reached the last of the standing cars, which also contained propane. He turned the valve controlling the brake pressure, thus allowing the forward section of the train to be moved away from the burning cars before other explosions could occur. Another railroader took action which allowed the rear section of the train to be moved.
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