Orange, TX Pipeline Explosion, Aug 1979


Orange, Texas (AP) -- Repair crews succeeded in plugging a ruptured propane gas pipeline today, and authorities predicted a fire touched off in an explosion that killed one man and injured another would quickly burn itself out.
Authorities said there was no longer any danger of further explosions. However, they said people evacuated from three nearby houses would not be allowed to return until the fire burned out.
Two men operating a bulldozer accidentally struck the pipe Monday, touching off an explosion that threw both off the machine.
The intense heat kept workmen from recovering the body of the bulldozer operator, ROY DAVID HUNTER, 36, of Orange, until shortly after midnight. Authorities said HUNTER'S charred skeletal remains were found near the center of the explosion, 75 feet from the bulldozer.
The second worker, FLOYD GRASTY of Orange, was reported in good condition at Orange Memorial Hospital.
Orange County deputies evacuated three nearby houses because another pipeline was within 10 feet of the burning line, sheriff's Capt. Joe Freeman said.
Gas to the burning Cities Service line was cut off at Orange and Vider, but enough propane remained in the pipe to keep the blaze burning out of control until technicians inserted plugs three miles on either side of the blaze.
Cities Service connection foreman Willis Wyche said that once the special plugs were in place, it would take five to six hours for the fire to burn itself out.
One witness to the blast said flames shot 400 feet into the air. Another resident, Sybil Jenkins, said, "It was a big rolling thick cloud of white smoke. It wasn't an explosion. It was like rolling thunder."

Case Grande Dispatch Arizona 1979-08-21