Fairview, OK Oil Storage Tank Explosion, Jul 1950



Fairview, Okla., July 12 - (AP) - Seven gasoline and kerosene storage tanks in the center of Fairview caught fire today after a chain explosion. Three warehouses storing thousands of barrels of oil also were burning.
Twelve persons were taken to the Fairview Hospital with injuries as this town of 2,400 persons in northwest Oklahoma was threatened.
Huge billowing clouds of black smoke rose into the air. Flames leaped 250 feet.
Dr. D. H. Smith said that the three were in serious condition but coming along nicely after blood plasma was administered.
He said the 13-bed hospital here could not take care of all the injured and one was sent to Clinton and others to Enid.
In addition to the three volunteer fire fighters hurt other identified injured were RAY ADLER, Consolidated Gas manager at Fairview; JOHN GARD, a jewelry store owner, and WOODROW DONNELLY.
Blood plasma was being rushed to Fairview from Oklahoma City by the highway patrol.
The tanks are warehouses were owned by the Phillips Petroleum Co., Cities Service Oil Co., and Sinclair Oil Co. This town is the wholesale marketing center for the area. It is 40 miles west of Enid.
The tanks and warehouses are on the Santa Fe railroad tracks.
A light wind from the southwest blew smoke and a few sparks through the town.
A grain elevator near the tanks was wet down and firemen said they could save it.
Citizens were wetting down roofs of their houses and moving what possessions they could to safe places.
The first tank to go was a 30,000-gallon one owned by Sinclair. The others held from 30,000 to 50,000 gallons of petroleum products.
Oil company employees unsuccessfully attempted to drain the tanks before they exploded.
Three of the injured men were members of the Fairview volunteer fire department. They were identified as FORREST BOWLES, RAY DEEM and WOODROW HOWERTON.
George A. Francis, owner of a Sinclair filling station at Fairview, said he could see a column of smoke rising several hundred feet in the air from his state three blocks away.
"The barrels of oil are exploding all over the place," he said. "The noise is a constant popping sound."
Francis said that the warehouses on fire were owned by Sinclair, and Cities Service. Phillips Petroleum company owns the other warehouse which is threatened.
"There's a brisk southwest wind blowing and if some more tanks catch fire, the flames will blow into the northeast part of town," Francis said.
The explosion at the first Sinclair tank occurred at 10:10 a.m. (est). The other caught fire soon afterwards.
No cause could be given immediately for the explosion. It was reported it started as a gasoline transport was being loaded.

Miami Daily News Record Oklahoma 1950-07-12