Brownfield, TX Grain Elevator Explosion, July 1960


Brownfield, Tex. (AP) -- As thousands watched in horror, a gravely injured man clung to a window high in a burning grain elevator Tuesday and begged, "Help me! Help me! I'm burning to death!"
After two hours of desperate maneuvering, a helicopter finally dropped a cable and a former steeplejack descended to save him.

Two Explosions.
The drama followed two thundering explosions which ripped a giant grain storage elevator and sent flames raging for hours through the 180-foot high structure.
Three men died and another was missing and presumed dead. Five others were injured.
One of the victims, PAUL AIKEN, about 32, of Brownfield, his clothes flaming, leaped 50 feet from near the top of the elevator to a landing in an attempt to avoid burning to death. He died a short time after arriving at a hospital.
Others listed as dead were ROYCE LAWHORN, about 50, and HENRY NIX, about 24, both of Brownfield.

Blame Grain Dust.
Missing and presumed buried in the debris was C.L. BURDEN, age unknown, of Brownfield. Elevator Mgr. V. N. LEWALLEN said Burden was working in the elevator at the time of the explosion "and I don't see how he could be alive."
Firemen blamed exploding grain dust for the disaster.
The helicopter that saved Philip Reeves, of Cotton Valley, La., came from Reese Air Force Base at Lubbock, 35, miles northeast of here. Donald Ethington, ex-steeplejack of Brownfield, assisted in the rescue.

Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune Wisconsin 1960-07-20


Grain elevator explosion

I was a peace officer in Brownfield at the time and assisted in the recovery and rescue operations. That day and the butane truck accident there is forever in my mind.

C. L. Burden

C. L. Burden, was my father!