Goldsmith, TX Permian Gas Explosion, Oct 1975


Goldsmith, Tex. (AP) -- Three men were killed and two others injured early today when an explosion ripped through a natural gas processing plant in this West Texas town.
The blast, caused by a ruptured pipeline, occurred at about midnight at the El Paso Natural Gas Co. plant.
The force of the blast dented several surrounding metal buildings and stripped a pickup truck of its tires.
Windows were broken in a 300-yard radius.
The explosion was felt in Goldsmith, a town of 400 persons about a mile from the plant, and also at a nearby area where many employes live in company housing.
One man said the explosion "shook" his trailer house.
The Goldsmith Volunteer Fire Department received the call about 12:20 a.m., a fire department spokesman said.
All other pipelines immediately were shut off. The fire was put out about two hours after the blast, although firemen stood by after daylight as the damaged structures smouldered. Fire units responded from Odessa, 50 miles to the southeast, Gardendale, Andrews, Monahans and Kermit.
The dead, burned beyond recognition, were identified by the company as JAMES C. FIFE, 25, an oiler; ROBBIE J. CARPENTER, 48, a plant operator; and JAMES E. LACKEY, 49, the shift supervisor.
VIRGIL FAULKNER, 49, of Odessa, was taken to Odessa Medical Center Hospital with second degree burns over 40 per cent of his body. He was listed in guarded condition.
Plant employe MIKE ARTHUR was hospitalized in satisfactory condition after suffering from smoke inhalation.
Another employe, HAROLD FRYMIER, was treated and released. He was cut while escaping the blast.
Two other men on the plant's overnight shift fled uninjured.
Goldsmith fire department personnel went through the town telling residents to evacuate.
Company spokesman John McFall said in El Paso the explosion occurred between two buildings, knocking out two multi-story cylindrical vessels. A cooling tower also caught fire.
McFall said the rupture was in a 12-inch pipeline between two sections of the plant.
He said the plant is designed to handle 200 million cubic feet of gas per day and is one of their larger plants.

Big Spring Herald Texas 1975-10-13