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Find 12th Body in Rubble

December 18, 1985

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) _ Fire crews recovered a 12th body Tuesday from the wreckage of a two-story gas company building and police said the propane tank explosion was ignited by a water-heater pilot light.

Police Chief Bob Halbert said the search would continue to make sure there were no additional victims, but he said none was expected to be found.

The 12 were killed and 15 injured Monday morning when the propane tank, ignited by the pilot light, blew down the Rocky Mountain Natural Gas Co. operations building, Halbert said.

A welding torch was first suspected as the cause of the blast but Halbert said investigators traced the ignition to the water heater.

Eleven bodies were recovered by late Monday night, ″about five or six of them at almost the same time,″ said Mike Copp, city manager.

The 12th victim was found after heavy equipment pulled off huge slabs of debris and firefighters cautiously probed the smoldering ruins.

Two officers of the federal Occupational Safety Health Administration in Denver were at the scene to assist in the investigation, spokesman Rich Kulczewski said.

He said the two officers will determine whether there were any safety violations, and if so will issue citations.

Parsons, president of the Denver-based company for two years, read the names, ages and jobs of the dead at a morning news conference and said, ″The blame rests with me. I’m the president.″

″I plan to spend as much of my time as I can today with the families,″ Parsons said. ″I feel I have lost a piece of me.″

The company, which employs 160 people, ″is a close-knit group,″ Parsons said.

Glenwood Springs, a west central Colorado mountain resort town of 5,500 people, mourned quietly Tuesday.

″A City Of Tears,″ read one of the headlines in the local newspaper, the Glenwood Post.

A community memorial service was scheduled for Thursday evening in the Glenwood Springs High School gymnasium. Ministers of various faiths were to preside over the services, authorities said. Funeral services would be held separately, officials said.

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