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OIL FED FLAMES - i ' xc .V wcrc Overcome along With six Others...
i ' xc .V wcrc Overcome along With six Others fighting {lift I>I«W!C. TWMlt.V additional officers Rlld tllcn also " Uie| c( j think Oil Fed Flames Engutf Sandia Guard House By KIMS MOTMEttSHEAD ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. /P— Oll-fcd flames, leaping lightning fast through a Samlia Base guardhouse, snuffed out the lives of 14 military prisoners last night. TrapfMjd with them in the tinder-dry wood structure, I ho prison's other two inmates Were injured critically, It Was the first major disaster in the history of the war-hullt Installation — now a semi-secret assembly point for the atomic bomb. Two guards, alerted by prisoners' cries, vainly tried to rescue them from behind bars and meshed wire'windows. at of for smoke effects. H was nil over 25 minutes nl after the first alarm was sounded at 7:35 p.m. (MST). Thirteen of the prisoners apparently died In the first few seconds; the other succumbed two hours later at a hospital. Most of the victims were believed to have Inhaled the intense, almost instantaneous heat and suffocated, Sandia authorises said. Guards reported there were few outcries to indicate any suffered long. Contrary to first reports. Ma|. Kenneth Kolsler, Snndla's intelligence officer, said there was no evidence of an explosion. Examination of the charred, dnnk smelling structure afterward bore him out. Damage consisted principally of badly scorched cell- ings and walls, mostly In a 100-ft L-shaped corridor and three cell h -iw.<«*»-" «pp-«rcd u™ t \ ni he overhead in less time than It takes to tell. The prisoners had finished their evening meal n short time, before. Some already were in bed, rending or sleeping. Bodies of two were found in a shower room; three olhers lay just outside (he door. Personal effects tillered their quarters, some scarcely touched by the bln/.e. Nearly a fourth of Ihe bunk- beds we"e nol even scorched. Several contained magazines, obviously dropped as their owners leaped In alarm. 11^1- mel.s and freshly shlned shos stood under some. Clothing, hung In liead-hlgli racks, generally was part burned. Major Homier dcscrllted five of Ihe prison Inmates as "ha<l cooklns," Jnilcd lifter conviction on serious charge* by a military court. Tho others hn labelled minor offondcM. JHo ilo^linnd to detail ohargew on which any wero courtmartlallcd, The two guards were the bulld- Ing'es only occupants besides I lie 16 prisoners. One, Cpl. Richard A Miller, 27, of (SS24 E. Hobarl), Stockton, Calif., was In Iho guard- louso office—-at Iho opposite end of the building from Ihe flaming slove--when fire was discovered. The other, Pvt .Wilbur Henry, '22. of (Rt. 2 ) South Xanesvill, O.', was originally was an air filed aiid later used to store hundreds" of. war retired planes. It became a secret Installation after World War II and has muhroomed In size and Importance In recent years. The fire was sighted at 7:35 p.m. (MSI 1 ), A prisoner called out to one of the guards. In approximately 15 minutes tho building wag gutted. The guard, corporation Miller, said he saw a flash of light and' called out to Private Henry to sound I ha fire alarm. "I started to try to release the prisoners from th e ce j| Blocks," he-related lo Investigators.' "Bo- fore I was able to unlock the first door, the flame and heat and smoke drove mo back." Henry said he sounded the fire iilnrm and Irled lo get the prisoners out "hut (hero was flro nil up iiml down tho Imllwuy and I couldn't get, | 0 Ihe, door. When the flro department got there, i helped (hem remove tho prisoners," ; Tho guards were quoted by Major Kenneth Kolstor, public informal Ion officer, as saying there was little outcry front the prisoners ^aflcr the initial alarm. "The can be "Is (hat there fo.rlng. They must have died almost immediately from Inhaling the i"h- l.cnso heat." Flnmes were visible lo motorists on U.S. Highway 66, just off which the main entrance to Sandia Is located. No civilian agency was called to the emergency. The Sandia fire department. — located just haU a block from the prison — was unable to got the trapped men through the smoke. on\y buesslng ~- If there a blessing," Roister said, was almost no $uf- walking back lo Ihe office midway Hiring the corridor. He had passed the stove five minutes earlier. Both were overcome by smoke, but attendants said Ihey 'probably would be able to leave the hospital today op tomorrow. Condition of the injured ••- Pfc. Robert C. Dnrsnek, 20, of Minne"polls, and Pvl. Harry C. Handles' 'M, of Hamilton, Ohio-remained K ravf> 'his morning Aulhorilies re- Mjpnrted s hor!ly before 8 a.m. <MST). Rod, were In I en Is. Newsmen were told neither injured prisoners nor the could lx> interviewed. The provost marshal, [,|. Oil. Ralph Tolve, and post police and 'prison officer LI. Stephen H. Perry, and four unidentified civilian firemen also were overcome by smoke. Cop Ion GetsIS Years KKW YORK, /T— Judith Cop- Ion was sentenced lo :IB year* in prison today for plotting to spy for Russia. He.r ox-pal, Russian Engineer Valontin A. Gubi- lohe.v received a 15-ypar suspended sentence nnd was ordered deported lo (ho Soviet Union within two weeks. The deportation order for the 33-year-old, short, clour-laced Russian was recommended by the guards! government as a result of confer- 'encos between the slate department and the attorney general's office. Federal Judge Sylvester J. Ryan sentenced brunette little Miss Coplon to five years on a conspiracy charge and 15 years on a count of attempted espionage, the sentences to run concurrently. oxygen the Kolsler said the flre-s,vept guardhouse a temporary type , building-is «t least thn-e-quarl'ersi He specified thai the term Im;of ;, mile from the nearest restrict- posed might not be served ed area, In which activities are secret. llr reported a ri'presentiitiv r of (h« Provost .Marshal (ienernl'ii office in WiixhiiiKlon liihpeittpd Ihr base less than a month IIRO n ml pronounced nil building's, In- cludinK the. prison, in excellent condition from a xnfcly nUnd- polnt. Sandia is a field installation of the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project. It works closely with Los Alamos Atomic Installation, RO miles to ihe north, and nearby Kirtland Field, tho Air Force's Special Weapons Command. The sprawling j!(),800-acro reservation on the Eastern Albuquerque limits and just under the shadow of Iho Sandia mountains concurrently with a sentence of 40 months lo 10 years she' received in Washington, D. C., on kindred charges. The judge refused an application to release, hoi in ball. Samuel A. Netiberger, attorney for the 28-year-old Miss Coplon, said be would file notice of appeal immediately. Miss Coplon could have received 25 years in prison and a $IO,OOQ fine. Oubllchev faced a maximum of l!i years in jail and $20,000 fines. U. S. Attorney Irving 11 Saypol told the court nf the government's recommendation for Gubllchev he- fore sentence was Imposed. He said it was the personal recommendation of the secretary of state and the attorney general.

Clipped from
  1. Clovis News-Journal,
  2. 09 Mar 1950, Thu,
  3. Page 1

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