Mooreland, OK Compressor Station Gas Fire, Jan 1976


Mooreland, Okla. (UPI) -- Authorities believe a heater being used by workers at a natural gas compressor station Wednesday caused a flash fire which killed three men and injured four others.
Woodward Fire Department Lt. Roger Martin said officials think the heater set fire to leaking gas.
The four workers who were burned were in fair to good condition at Oklahoma City, Enid and Tulsa hospitals.
Killed were:
RUSSELL WARREN, 22, of Seiling, Okla.
BENNY CONTRERAS, 34, from Mexico but living near May.
MARCUS M. PANDO, 19, from Mexico but living near May.
Injured were:
EZEKIAL SANCHEZ, 27, of Mexico.
GABRIEL VEGA, 17, of Mexico.
CARL NOBLE, 57, of Seiling, Okla.
MIKE SCHAEFER, 17, of Seiling, Okla.
NOBLE, SCHAEFFER and VEGA were taken to the Baptist Medical Center burn unit in Oklahoma City and VEGA was transferred to a Tulsa hospital late Wednesday. SANCHEZ was taken to an Enid hospital.
A Baptist hospital nursing supervisor said Wednesday night VEGA, NOBLE and SCHAEFFER were in fair condition. SANCHEZ was reported in good condition. An Army helicopter was to transfer the men, but high winds prevented the helicopter from reaching the area.
"They were installing new equipment down in a ditch," Woodward County Sheriff A. C. Gaston said. "I think it was more of a flash fire than an explosion. I didn't see any twisted metal. These bodies were intact, except for being burned."
"It was real cold out here, about zero, and the chill factor was about 30 below," he said. "They had a heater down in the hole with them."
Highway patrol trooper Bill Hensley said the ditch was six to eight feet deep.
The National Weather Service reported a chill factor of about 40 below zero in the area in the far northwest Oklahoma area. The station was isolated from any residential areas.
The western Oklahoma compressor station consists of a group of compressors, large engines and pipes in an open area, the sheriff said.
The men worked for Trend Construction Corp. of Oklahoma City which was handling construction of the Michigan-Wisconsin Co.'s Cederdale compressor station southeast of Mooreland in Woodward County.
A natural gas line and compressor stations run by Michigan-Wisconsin go through western Oklahoma from Texas to Kansas. The pipeline company is a subsidiary of American Natural Gas Co. in Detroit.

Pampa Daily News Texas 1976-01-08