Greensboro, NC Oil Refinery Explosion, Aug 1955


Greensboro (AP) - One man was killed and three persons were injured in the explosion of oil refinery facilities on Winston Road about one mile south of the Greensboro-High Point Airport Monday.
RUFUS WHITAKER of Elmhurst Street, High Point, was killed instantly by the explosion which buried him under a burning pile of oil-soaked clay, twisted steel and other materials used in the refining process.
The injured, rushed by ambulance to Greensboro's Cone Memorial Hospital, are JOHN PEELER of Lexington and his brother-in-law HENRY INGRAM, also of Lexington, and CARL THOMPSON of High Point.
THOMPSON was described by hospital authorities as being in a "very critical" condition. PEELER and INGRAM were described as "badly burned."
The explosion wrecked the High Point Oil Co. plant located off U.S. 421 several hundred feet behind the Southern Oil Transportation Co. facilities. It is directly opposite the highway from the huge Shell and Gulf storage tanks.
Joe Brinson of High Point, head of the firm, was at a loss to explain the cause of the explosion. He described the damage as total.
Crews from the Guilford College, Pinecroft-Sedgfield and Greensboro fire departments worked in the intense heat to diminish the flames enough to dig for WHITAKER'S body. It was recovered shortly after 11 a.m., more than an hour after the explosion occurred.
WHITAKER, operator of the distillery plant, and THOMPSON, his assistant, were nearest to the center of the explosion.
An eye-witness account was given by Jack McAdee of Church Street Extension, a pilot who was crop-dusting from the air and saw the explosion.
He said flames and debris shot skyward 1,000 feet - up to his level, although he was about one-quarter of a mile away.

Index-Journal Greenwood South Carolina 1955-08-23