Cartwright, LA Gas Pipeline Exploson, Aug 1976



Six persons, three of them small children died yesterday following the rupture of a 20-inch pipeline that ignited an area nearly 200 yards in diameter in the Jackson Parish community of Cartwright.
Cartwright is located about five miles southeast of Choudrant near the Lincoln-Jackson parish line on State Highway 556.
The blowout and ensuing fire left only charred tree trunks standing for hundreds of feet in each direction. Three of six homes in the immediate area were leveled by flames, killing two occupants of one and four in another.
Four other children playing in the area at the time escaped uninjured.
The dead were identifed as MR. and MRS. HERBERT WHITNEY; MRS. JOHN REDDING, 34; and three of her children, BILLY JOE, 4; DOUGLAS, 11; and SUZIE ANN, 6.
The pipeline, reportedly constructed about 30 years ago, was ruptured when struck by road equipment belonging to the Jackson Parish Police Jury which was building a road over the line for the six homes in the area.
The equipment operator, BOB ELDRIDGE, 48, of Ruston, was listed in guarded condition at Lincoln General Hospital where he was admitted with burns over 45 percent of his body.
ELDRIDGE, upon realizing what had happened, abandoned his machine before it ignited, but was burned when the explosion occurred.
ELDRIDGE'S machine apparently stuck the pipeline about 1 p.m., according to a spokesman for the Jackson Parish Sheriff's Office.
The sheriff's office got its first call at 1:10 p.m., he said.
The line, owned by United Gas, had 770 pounds of pressure per square inch.
Pressure from the ruptured line hurled a 15-foot section of the line about 40 feet and spewed sand and gravel hundreds of feet, creating a crater some 20 feet wide, 35 feet long andabout 25 feet deep.
United gas workmen had to shut off pressure on a 24-inch line located only a few feet away from the damaged one before rescuers could begin searching for bodies.
The damaged line appeared to be about three feet deep in the area of the rupture, although witnesses said a portion of the pipe was exposed.

Ruston Daily Leader Louisiana 1976-08-10