"Explosion!" Part 1

(Original air date 11/20/67)


The Barkley brothers race against time to stop a devastating fire
threatening to ravage the town


Writers: John O'Dea & Arthur Rowe

Director: Virgil W. Vogel

During a trail stop, two wanted outlaws, Gabe (Hal Baylor) and Chuck (Robert Palmer) , debate over which town would provide the safest sanctuary. After opting for Stockton they stifle the campfire and head towards their destination, unaware that the wind has blown their newspaper over the still hot embers, thus setting it on fire.

While the fire rapidly spreads across the forest, at the post office in town, the Barkley brothers pick up their mother’s birthday gift: a painting of a roundup that Nick was told would someday be worth a fortune. Heath and Jarrod can’t help tease their brother on his ridiculous investment after Silas (Napoleon Whiting) shows them the same picture as part of calendar given for free at the general store.


When nobleman Marquis de Lacaise (Carl Esmond) pulls up in front of the assayer’s office with his stunning daughter Michelle (Leticia Roman) Nick goes over their carriage to try his luck at seducing the enchantress but the protective father’s untimely interruption puts a damper on the suitor’s enthusiasm.

As de Lacaise gets ready to return home, one of his employees, Wilson, (John Pickart) rides in to warn him of a raging fire that broke out near Granite City which is threatening both his and the Barkley mines. He explains that a group of volunteers has erected a firebreak to contain the flames but fear that it won’t be enough to stop the fire from spreading.


At the saloon, Nick summons all the mine owners to an emergency meeting to discuss the situation. De Lacaise comes in and bluntly offers the extravagant sum of two thousand dollars to anyone willing to transport nitro up to the fire. Explosive expert Charlie Carter (Stuart Erwin) volunteers followed by the foolhardy Stone brothers Jim (John Crawford) and Norvil (Jack Catron). Mine owners, including the Barkleys, reluctantly agree to contribute to the sum of six thousand dollars to be deposited in a bank account for the three men once the job is done.


Later, Heath, Nick and Jarrod lend a hand to Charlie and the Stone brothers by filling up vials with nitro. When all the bottles are carefully loaded onto the wagon, Charlie bids a tearful farewell to his fiancée Gail Miller (Arlene Golonka) before heading out.


The men gather at the saloon to drown their anxiety. Suddenly a loud explosion rends the air and rattles the ground. People flock to the streets, their terror-filled eyes riveted to the hills where smoke can be seen billowing in the sky, evidence that the three men have failed in their task.


De Lacaise is relentless. He increases his offer to three thousand but doesn’t get any takers, aside from drunkard Toby (Eddie Firestone) who sees a golden opportunity at some fancy living.

A neighbour, McLeod, (Steve Pendleton) bursts into the saloon saying that the wind has shifted dramatically and that the fire is now heading towards Stockton. The news triggers a panic, sending the patrons stampeding out the door. Our three brothers remain calmly seated and weigh their options. They unanimously decide to trust the Barkley luck and carry the next load of nitro to arrive by train at Lacaise’s request.


As town folks begin evacuating, the brothers instruct Silas to return to the ranch and advise their mother of their intention to remain in town overnight. While Nick goes to the fire house to see about using the trained horses for the ride up the hill, Heath pays a visit to the undertaker Beckett (Jonathan Hole) to sweet talk him into lending them his prized hearse, after which they meet back with Jarrod to ask him to get their wills in orders.


At the ranch, Silas informs Victoria and Audra of the situation. Quickly Victoria proposes to gather emergencies supplies. As for her, Audra rides out to the orphanage to convince the Padre (Edwards Colmans) to have the children stay over at the ranch.

Later that night at his office, Jarrod receives a surprise visit from Charlie Carter’s girlfriend Gail who feeds him a tearjerker of having quit her job as a saloon girl on Charlie’s solemn promise to provide for her every need. Given the fact that he died before they were legally married, Gail has no legal rights to his properties and therefore asks Jarrod to act on her behalf. In all good conscience, Jarrod cannot vouch for Charlie’s wish for her to inherit his small fortune. His decision infuriates Gail to the point of threatening him before storming out of the office.


Nick makes another attempt at seducing de Lacaise’s daughter. After a rather bumpy encounter with the family butler Henri (Maurice St.Clair) Nick is led to the grand family room where Michelle tries to beguile him into carrying the nitro for her father. Nick soon discovers he’s been played for a fool.


He lashes out at de Lacaise for using his own daughter in such a shameless scheme. He thunders out of the house after saying that there was no need for this charade; that he and his brothers have already agreed to do the job.

Once Nick gone, Michelle turns on her father.

Back in town, as Jarrod leaves his office to go meet with his brothers at the saloon he crosses path with a bearer of bad news. Rogers (Bill Zuckert) explains that the Lasso Bridge was blown to smithereens in the last explosion, thus forcing the brothers to use an alternate route which will take them longer to reach the fire.


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