Brownfield, TX Gas Truck Explosion, Dec 1958
FOUR KILLED, 168 INJURED BY GAS TRUCK EXPLOSION.
TEXAS TOWN WRECKED BY GAS BLAST.
Brownfield, Tex. (UPI) -- A butane gas transport truck blew up Monday night in the midst of 500 persons standing as close to it as 10 feet. Spectators said flames shot 1,000 feet into the air and the blast blew chunks of red hot metal two miles.
The explosion killed four persons and injured 168. Most of the injured were treated for burns and sent home, but at least 63 remained in hospitals, some in critical condition.
The tragedy started with a wreck between the butane transport and a trailer truck. There was a small explosion, probably of gasoline, when the trucks collided, and a fire.
The Brownfield volunteer fire department rushed to the scene and spectators gathered. Fifteen minutes after the wreck and original explosion, the powerful butane gas on the truck blew up.
"About 20 of us firemen were on the south side of it, all within 20 feet," volunteer fireman Phillip Thompson said.
"Suddenly there was an awful roar and it seemed like the whole sky was on fire. I was knocked down. Then I was up and running. I don't know where, just running."
"A boy passed me running hard. His clothes were on fire. I jerked some of his clothes off and put out the fire."
Thompson was wearing a heavy fireman's coat and trousers over his regular clothing. His clothing
inside the firemen's coat and trousers got
"scorching hot," but he escaped with minor burns.
The victims were:
Volunteer fire marshal JIM COUSINEAU, 45, who earned his living as an electrical engineer.
RUBEN JOHNSON, about 50, Lubbock, the driver of the butane transport.
WAYLAND PARKER, about 45, a volunteer fireman.
J. B. RAY, a farmer.
In local hospitals in very critical condition are:
DEWEY VAN STORY, 14.
E. N. WILGUS, 53.
The injured overflowed the local hospital and ambulances and automobiles rushed them to hospitals in Lubbock, Levelland and LaMesa, about 40 miles away.
Residents of Lubbock, Muleshoe and Big Spring reported seeing the flash of the explosion. Big Spring is 80 miles from Brownfield.
The explosion knocked out Brownfield's power supply and there was no power for more than an hour. It blew out windows all over town. The glass in a filling station two blocks away simply disappeared.
Butane is a gas, widely used for heating in rural areas, that liquifies under pressure. It is carried about as a liquid and stored in tannks on farms and ranches, but the moment it touches air, it becomes a gas.
Yuma Daily Sun Arizona 1958-12-23