El Centro, CA Gasoline Storage Tank Explosion, Feb 1955
EXPLOSION WRECKS THREE GASOLINE STORAGE TANKS; TWO KILLED, TWO INJURED.
El Centro, Calif., Feb. 14 (AP) - A terrific explosion and fire knocked out three 200-foot-high gasoline storage tanks of the Signal Oil Co., today, and at least two persons were believed to have been killed. Two were critically burned.
ROFALIO NAVA and FLOYD WILLIAMS are believed to have died. NAVA was a welder who went in Signal's oil distributing plant to repair a break in one of the big fuel storage tanks. WILLIAMS, a truck driver, was said to have been in his truck when it was quickly enveloped in flames.
NAVA was seen fleeing to a fence. As he climbed it, he fell backward and was seared.
Witnesses said WILLIAM H. DEWITT, manager of the plant, spotted a leak in one of the tanks and put in a call for NAVA. A wooden wedge was being used to stop the leak when the first blast came. THOMAS BLENTS, office manager was nearby at the time, and he, DEWITT and NAVA were caught in the mushrooming flames. BLENTS and DEWITT were in critical condition at a hospital.
Firemen said that approximately 45,000 gallons of gasoline were being stored at the plant when the explosion occurred. Witnesses said that after the first explosion, flames spurted 350 feet skyward and then there were two more giant blasts and a dense pall of smoke spread over El Centro.
The Pocono Record Stroudsburg Pennsylvania 1955-02-15