Carson, CA Refinery Explosion, Dec 1985


Two workers were killed and 45 others hurt when a blast at the Atlantic Richfield Co. in Carson, Calif., refinery shook a neighborhood and shot flames 500 feet into the air.
The Arco explosion "rumbled pretty good ... like an earthquake," said Sandi McDonell, who was working across the street.
Paramedics attending a ceremony rededicating a county fire station to the late producer of the TV show "Emergency" jumped into action when they heard the blast nearby, said Los Angeles County fire spokesman Mike Moura.
Many of the injured were treated on a grassy patch across street from the refinery.
"I saw a white fume near the ground, heard a loud hissing noise," said WARREN HUTTO, who was making a delivery to the refinery and who tried to climb a fence to safety.
"It blew me over the top," he said, holding up hands bandaged after the fall.
"I saw the flames, heard the blast, a fantastic explosion," said county Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, who was at the ceremony to dedicate the station to the late Robert Cinader, producer of the television show "Emergency," which was filmed there. The drama series centered on two fire department paramedics and their rescues.
"It was burning so loudly and so vigorously that it drowned out the (public address) system," said Fire Chief John Englund, one of those at the ceremony.
Arco spokesman Scott Loll said the 9:50 a.m. explosion was in a "reformer unit" used to boost the octane of gasoline and that flames were fed by gasoline from a pump that feeds the unit.
The fire was put out an hour later. He denied earlier reports by firefighters that hydrogen was involved.
About 30 fire trucks and three helicopters carrying paramedics were called to the Watson refinery, 15 miles south of downtown Los Angeles.
Among those treated at area hospitals were fire Capt. ALBERT BRANDELLI, JR., admitted to the cardiac care unit with chest pains, said Cindy Peters, a spokeswoman at San Pedro Peninsula Hospital.
Critically burned were JIM BROADWAY, 30, of Long Beach, and VERNON WALES, 50, of Wilmington, both admitted to Torrance Memorial Hospital Medical Center; STAN LAWRENCE, 29, of Westminster, and BARNEY DYE, 57, no hometown listed, at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center; and two men, ages 37 and 47, at County-USC Medical Center, where officials would not release their names.
Authorities were trying to identify the badly burned bodies of the dead.

Roswell Daily Record New Mexico 1985-12-06