Encyclopedia Astronautica
1967.03.13 - Apollo 204 Review Board met for critical review of draft final reports


The Apollo 204 Review Board met with chairmen of Panels 12, 16, 19, and 20 for critical review of their draft final reports.

The reports were accepted subject to editorial corrections. The Witness Statements Panel (Panel 12) task had been to collect all data from witnesses of the 204 accident, including both eyewitnesses and console monitors, and to prepare the data for publication as appendix to the formal report. The panel also was to analyze the sequence of events and summarize any testimony that was contradictory to the main data.

Eyewitnesses and television and audio monitors from 18 agencies and contractors had been queried. Responses from 590 persons totaled 572 written and 40 recorded statements - adding up to 612 statements obtained (some persons submitted more than one statement or were interviewed twice). The sequence of events, as reconstructed from witness statements, follows:

Between 6:31:00 and 6:31:15 p.m. EST Jan.27, 1967

Witnesses in launch vehicle aft interstage, Level A-2:

Felt two definite rocking or shaking movements of vehicle before "Fire" report. Unlike vibrations experienced in past from wind, engine gimbaling, or equipment input.

Witnesses on Levels A-7 and A-8:

Heard "Fire" or "Fire in Cockpit" transmissions. Heard muffled explosion, then two loud whooshes of escaping gas (or explosive releases). Observed flames jet from around edge of command module and under White Room.

TV monitors:

Heard "Fire" or "Fire in Cockpit" transmissions. Observed astronaut helmet, back, and arm movements; increase of light in spacecraft window; and tonguelike flame pattern within spacecraft. Observed flame progressing from lower left comer of window to upper right; then spreading flame filled window, burning around hatch openings, lower portion of command module, and cables.

Between 6:31:15 and 6:33 p.m. EST

Witnesses on Levels A-7 and A-8:

Repeated attempts to penetrate White Room for egress action. Fought fires on CM, SM, and in White Room area.

TV monitors:

Observed smoke and fire on Level A-8. Progressive reduction of visibility of spacecraft hatch on TV monitor because of increasing smoke.

Between 6:33 and 6:37 p.m. EST

Repeated attempts to remove hatch and reach crew. Spacecraft boost protective cover removed by North American personnel J. D. Gleaves and D. O. Babbitt. Spacecraft outer hatch removed by North American personnel J. W. Hawkins, L. D. Reece, and S. B. Clemmons. Spacecraft inner hatch opened and pushed down inside by Hawkins, Reece, and Clemmons, approximately 6:36:30 p.m. EST. No visual inspection of spacecraft interior possible because of heat and smoke. No signs of life.

Between 6:37 and 6:45 p.m. EST

Remains of fires extinguished. Fire and medical support arrived. Fireman J. A. Burch, Jr., and North American technician W. M. Medcalf removed spacecraft inner hatch from spacecraft. Examination of crew and verification of condition.

Between 6:45 p.m. EST Jan. 27 and 2:00 a.m. EST Jan. 28

Service structure cleared. Photographs taken. Crew removed. Complex and area under secure conditions. Personnel from Washington and Houston arrived and assumed control.

In its final report to the Review Board the panel indicated it believed that all persons with pertinent information regarding the accident had been queried.

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