Corsicana, TX Oil Well Fire, May 1923

MANY KILLED IN OIL BLAZE

SPARK FROM TOOL IGNITING GAS CAUSE OF DISASTER

OIL GUSHER EXPLODES

SIXTEEN ARE KILLED INSTANTLY, MANY OTHERS INJURED BY BLAST.

Corsicana, Texas. --- Instantaneous death was meted out to at least sixteen men working on the G. K. HUGHES Developing Company's McKee No. 1 well, ten miles southeast of here, with a possibility of the number of dead reaching twenty-five, when the monster well exploded.
A spark from a hammer of a rock as the control valve was being changed at the well ignited the oil and gas from the gusher.

A crew of twenty men, who came from Mexia had not been accounted for. The crew was working in the near vicinity of the well when it caught fire. The bodies of five men have been recovered and are so badly charred that identification is impossible.

Two other charred bodies located near the well could not be reached, so intense is the heat from the blazing inferno. The death list reads:
W. A. HICKS, Wortham, Texas;
JAMES PHILLIPS, Kerens, Texas;
L. C. COOK, Kerens, Texas;
DAN PHILLIPS, Kerens, Texas;
L. C. SHEEK, Dallas, Texas;
FRED CRAIG, Roane, Texas;
EDWIN C. COOPER, Corsicana;
JACK COOPER, Corsicana;
S. P. ALLEN, Corsicana;
M. O. TURNER, Mississippi, city unknown;
MAX MEISNER, Corsicana;
TRAVIS OWEN, Corsicana;
Four Unidentified Bodies.
Fatally burned, EMMET BIRD, Corsicana.

One man, a MR. SIMMONS, who was on the derrick floor with the crew, escaped by running. His clothing not being oil soaked, did not ignite. A 15-year-old boy escaped with him.

The officials of the developing company are making a check of the men working.

One man said that the bodies of the dead men were where they fell when the blast occurred and with the well still burning it would be impossible for some time to remove them.

A number of automobiles near the well were reported to have been destroyed by the fire.

Word of the tragedy was telephoned to Corsicana with urgent call that all available doctors, medical supplies and ambulances be rushed to the scene. The dead and injured were brought to Corsicana. The injured were placed in the Physicians and Surgeons Hospital.

According to an eye witness the crew was on the derrick floor changing the control head when suddenly there was a flash of fire, followed by two other flashes, the fire shooting over 100 feet in the air. All the trees and shrubbery around the well were saturated with oil and the ground was quickly burned clear.

Plateau Voice Colorado 1923-05-18