Baytown, TX Explosion In Chemical Company, Jan 1958


Baytown, Tex. (AP) -- A thunderous explosion rocked the United Rubber & Chemical Co. plant near here yesterday, killing three men. Six others were injured, three seriously.
Flames shot 100 feet into the air following the blast, which a plant official blamed on butadiene gas. Two of the dead were buried under tons of debris somewhere in the two buildings destroyed by the blast.
The plant, located about three miles from here, is some 25 miles from Texas City where a series of ship explosions killed more than 500 persons in 1947.
The victims were identified as J. O. OWENS, 32, Highlands, Tex., CHESTER TRAHAN, 41, and ED STOKLEY, 59, both of Baytown.
Plant workers were digging into the rubble to recover the bodies of TRAHAN and STOKLEY.
HOWARD DUNAWAY, 51, Channelview, Tex.; MILLER DAY, 44, Mont Belvieu, Tex., and LOUIE F. FISHER, Baytown, were hospitalized. The other three injured men were not seriously hurt.
GORDON F. HARRIMAN was one of 40 persons working at the plant when the blast occurred.
"I saw it blow right out the roof of both those buildings, it blew the windows out of my building, knocked off our front door and threw me on the floor," he said.
Firemen controlled the fire started by the blast about an hour and a half later. The explosion was felt 12 miles away.
HARRIMAN said he ran out of the building in which he was working and spotted OWENS crawling out of the wreckage, about 50 feet away.
"There was nothing we could do for him. He was burned all over," HARRIMAN said. OWENS was dead on arrival at a hospital.
T. LAYMAN, general manager of the plant, said the fire was a direct result of a gas explosion. The plant covers a 47-acre site and has numerous buildings and a tank farm. It employes 300 persons.

Ogden Standard Examiner Utah 1958-01-20