September 27, 2016

First-Hand Account – Harold Anderson

My job was to supply the trip flare assembly line workers with casing and pellets for the trip flares. On February 3, 1971, Charles Benton (Supervisor) and I were in the oven checking casing when the women from building M-132 ran out of the operating doors onto the patio screaming “Fire – Fire.” Charles and I went toward the operating doors of building M-132 and when Charles opened the doors I tripped and fell down face first. A huge fire ball came ripping through the open door and fire roared around me. In my mind, I could see clear blue skies, then after awhile something said “get up and run.” I got up from the patio and as I began to run away from building M-132, the building exploded and blew me across the road into a ditch. I was injured, helpless and couldn’t get up. I could feel the scorching heat of the fire as it blew over me down in that ditch. Fire and smoke was all around me and I could only yell “help – help.” Then, there in a brief clearing of the smoke stood my co-worker, Shirley Alberta. She was injured and had burns on her face. Shirley was small in size yet, somehow she was able to get me up out of the ditch and carry me on her back until other men (Reilly Glover and Lewis Joseph) came to help us. I was placed flat on my back in a van with other injured workers. On the way to the hospital, some of the worker’s overalls caught fire in the van. The women in the van had to smother the fire to put it out. Two weeks later, I returned to work. I stayed at work that day for three hours and I had to leave. Everywhere I looked, and everything I saw reminded me of my co-workers. I could see their faces and then I realized that they were gone forever. From that day forth, I never went back to work at Thiokol. I was haunted by the memories of the fire then and now. I use to ask myself, “How is it possible that I am alive?” Now I know that it was GOD. GOD granted me two life saving miracles on February 3, 1971. I tripped in the doorway of Building M-132 for no apparent reason and was spared the huge fire ball. Then GOD let Shirley hear my cries for help and sent her to help me out of the ditch. I am eternally grateful.

Harold Anderson

Thiokol Employee, Building M-132, Utility Person Thiokol Explosion Survivor