Brookside Village, TX Gas Pipeline Explosion, Oct 1978



Brookside Village, Texas (AP) -- The explosion of a natural gas pipeline into a giant blowtorch seared flesh, killed five persons and turned trailer park into a battle scene -- wrecked homes, blackened fields, and the weping, screaming injured.
"When we got here it looked like something from a war," said Frank Noe, a volunteer firefighter.
"We found the first body in the field and it was still burning. We put it out."
"I went through World War II, but I never saw anything like this."
The unexplained exlosion of the 30-inch pipline ripped through the mobile home park as its residents slept; at 3 a.m. Tuesday. At least 50 residents and rescue workers were injured, and one woman was still missing a day later. About half the 23 mobile homes at the Royal Mobile Home Park were destroyed.
At least one official feared the death toll would climb.
"Some people may have been completely incinerated from the heat and we may not find them at all," said Fire Chief Bill Wilcox of nearby Friendswood.
Jule Bertothy, the first police officer to reach the scene, said he was met by the screams of panicked residents.
"People rushed my car," the Pearland police officer said. "A lot of them were screaming, many were in shock."
The injured, he said, had "flesh dripping from their bodies like water."
All around, the rural mobile home park was a twisted mass of metal and charred ruins, steel frames and trailer home siding and burned-out cars, their paint boiled away by the furnace-like heat.
A 30-foot crater smoldered after the gas fire burned itself out some three hours after it began.
One resident described the blast, "I thought it was a tornado," said Kathie Mahaffey, who had been asleep in her trailer with her two infant daughters. "Everything started falling off the walls and I knew it was time to get out."
Others felt the same fear, but died. The five victims were found face down in an open field -- apparently fleeing for their lives.
The Brazoria County sheriff's office identified the dead as THELMA SUE HARDCASTLE JONES, 39; WILBUR HANEGAN, 61; SANDRA WORTHY, 28; FRED WORTHY, 36; and PEGGY SUE WORTHY, 4.
A fourth member of the WORTHY family, 14 year-old JAMES, was hospitalized in serious condition at the Shriners Burns Institute in Galveston.
Officers identified the missing woman as IVEY BEASLEY, about 60. Police said her frame house, near the trailer park, was razed by the blast.
Brookside Village is on the southeast outskirts of Houston in an area covered by a patchwork of oil, gas and chemical pipelines that supply a 200-mile industrial area extending from Freeport to the south and to Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange on the east.

Garden City Telegram Kansas 1978-10-25


Hard to think about.

I remember that night to well. We picked up a boy who wandered into the street burned badly as we fled, the skin had melted off his back. We lived very close to the explosion. We took him to my grandparents house where the paramedics picked him up. I went to school with the boy after he recovered and ashamedly never spoke a word to him. The memories where to hard to overcome even though none of my family was injured.

I was the Crewmen on the HH52A Coast Guard Helicopter that day.

Dear Diane,

It would please me greatly if I could get you to email me photos and newspaper articles about that faithful day. I was the Search and Rescue Crewman that flew over the area after the explosion, in order to keep other aircraft away and if needed to fly any injured to the hospital etc. I have been thinking about that case for sometime but never saw in documents any information on the case. We stayed until we needed fuel and went back to base. I saw it on the News in Houston when I got to the base. I started to research the case on the Internet and found your comments. Thanks for any information you can provide, Tom

1978 Explosion

I do have photos of the aftermath and newspaper articles. We lost all of our belongings so I don't have any pictures from the time we lived there. My brother's name is Jack. My sister's name is Cindy. My brother and sister were friends with David and Cynthia Burton (I believe that last name is correct). I had a friend named Donna who lived in one of the first couple of trailers. I remember well Kevin and his brothers from across the street! We had lived there for about 2 - 2.5 years when the explosion happened. I spent many-a-day in the playground in the middle of the park. I wasn't able to keep in touch with anyone from that time of my life. It would be nice to see where everyone ended up. If you want to contact me, my email address is motomom613@gmail.com. Diane.

reply to 1978 gas explosion in Brookside Village (near Pearland)

I think I am that family you are speaking of that came to your house. We attended the Church of Christ in Pearland. I am the little boy that was burned all over my back and spent 2 months in the hospital and countless years of surgeries afterwards. Our family met up at the end of the trailer park and found a van and my mother told the van driver to take us to someone she knew at church (which was about 5 miles from the trailer park). These folks then took us to the emergency room. I cannot say enough of the Church of Christ (where Louie White ministered) folks that stayed with us each evening in the hospital for 2 months. My sister and I were in seperate hospital rooms and our parents were hurt too. I live near Lubbock now and am 43. David Burton

Do you have photos of this.

Do you have photos of this. I lived there in one of the front trailers. My best fried was Diana and her brother jack. We use to play with Kevin and Chris Doris across the street on the far.

Tomorrow will be October 24,

Tomorrow will be October 24, 2013 - 35 years after the Brookside Village Explosion in 1978. I did a Google search to see what might be out there and came across these posts. My name is Diane Thomas. It was Diane Burke and I was 11 at the time of the explosion. My family (mother, stepfather and two siblings) lived in the last trailer on the left side of the driveway. It was one of the several completely destroyed. We lost everything we owned that night. I was in the hospital until mid January 1979. My mother and sister were hospitalized for 8 to 10 months for the initial hospital stay; nevermind the many surgeries to follow over many years. I have very vivid memories of that night as well. One of our living room windows faced the field through which Mr. and Mrs. Jones and my friend Rhonda, Mr. Hanegan and the Worthy family ran through trying to get away. I watched in horror as these folks each fell to the ground unable to continue running. Our trailer was falling off the blocks, the ceiling was caved in, the windows on then end facing the flames had blown out we were frantically trying to get out of the trailer. As we stepped out on the stairs, the concrete was so hot, we had to immediately jump to the ground but our feet still blistered. I could still see rocks falling from the sky. My family got separated in our attempt to escape. My mother used her body to shield my sister who had just turned 6. My mother was burned over 50% of her body with 3rd degree burns. We were all taken to different hospitals - me and my brother went to Southeast Memorial. Mom ended up at Hermann via Life Flight. Ultimately were were all transferred to the same hospital, but because of the risk of infection, it was months before we were able to see our mother - and because she was in such bad shape. I will never forget the months we had to endure the excruciating pain of the whirlpool/debris removal scrubbing. Although we all have many scars that will be with us forever, we did recover from the physical wounds. It took a little longer for the psychological healing. Eventually my mother moved us to a new part of town and set the course for a better future. I have chosen to take from this horribly tragic event the positives.- I became a true believer in the power of prayer and my Lord and Savior while I was hospitalized. I am a much stronger person psychologically and emotionally. We were able to move to a new neighborhood with excellent schools which would not have been possible but for the accident. My mother was able to expose us to a lifestyle we would not have had otherwise. Today I have been happily married for 23 years. am a proud mother of a wonderful son. I have a college degree and I am successful in my career. The horrible events of that night changed the direction of my life forever. God does work in mysterious ways. :)

1978 pipeline explosion

i lived in the second trailer. i was 5 yrs ols. i also remember every detail. God Bless u. 281-201-7392

brookside, tx. gas pipeline explosion 1978

I lived in the second trailer.

Brookside village fire 1978 near Houson Texas

tonight (December 23rd) I googled this for information. I lived through this terrible night. I as only 8 when this happened and forever changed my family's life. I endured 2 months in the hospital and countless surgeries in the summers up until I was about 15. After that, I'd had enough. sick of wearing the jobst garmets to flatten out my scar tissue. I was burnt over 50% on my body; most all of the burns are on my back -3rd degree. October 24th, 1978 is etched in my memory all of these passing years. Our church of Christ in Pearland where we attended helped us immensely. I recall that the famiies of this church would sit with us each night as my mom and dad were also burnt. Don't know the name of the location of it, but do recall Mr. Louie White was the minister. the teachers of the brookside village elementary where I went as a 2nd grader served us well too. I went to the site back in about 1993 and could not stomach it. Folks there said 'yea...we heard there was some sort of explosion here some years back'. time marches on. the place is not the same, and I suppose that is good. that night I recall running across the road, resting at a trailer park and sitting on the porch with some teenager and I reached across my back because of the heat and hurt on my back. I reached back and flesh tore and I saw it in my hand. I then saw herds of other folks running for safety. I was just in my underwear that night as it was a typicall hot humid night even in October. Our trailer was salvaged along with the one next to it, but beyond those...they were all burnt to the ground. My bedroom windown was facing the empty field where the old lady's house was. I looked out there and it was on fire. As I ran through our house to the front door, I could see dishes coming out of mom's cabinets as the ground was shaking. At the front door, I looked and the fire was God awfully big. To this day, when I hear sonic booms I jerk, shutter and reflect. From all of the countless surgeries in the o.r. I ask my daughter NOT to paint their nails in the house as that smell reminds me of the anesthesia from the countless surgeries. God has blessed me through the deep tragedy. I would never want to go through that mess again. I am now an educator and a minister near Lubbock, Texas. My family moved away from the Houston area shortly after the trajedy to reside in Cisco, Texas where I call home.

In Memory

My Name was Donna sanderson then and I was 10 years old when our trailer park exploded. My family and I survived that night,but some of our friends did not.. That was something I will remember for the rest of my life.. Im 43 now,but I still have dreams and memories of that horrible night!!!