Hobbs, NM Oil Supply Building Explosion, Oct 1985


Hobbs (AP) -- One man was killed and three others were injured in an explosion and fire that destroyed an oil supply building and damaged nearby homes and utility poles in Hobbs Wednesday, authorities said.
Hobbs Fire Chief Ken Fulcher said the badly burned body of one man was found covered by debris in the northern portion of the building.
The man was identified as ROBERT LOVAS of Hobbs.
Assistant Fire Chief Mike Gray said the three injured men were taken to the burn unit at University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque.
Martin said the injured men were identified as ROGER HIBNER, PAUL SOURS and JAMES MALES, all of Hobbs.
A hospital spokeswoman said HIBNER was in critical condition with burns over 48 percent of his body, SOURS was in satisfactory condition with burns over 21 percent of his body and MALES was in satisfactory condition with burns over 18 percent of his body.
Gray said the men either fled the building or were blown out by the explosion.
Police said the cause of the fire was not yet known.
Damages to the building and its inventory were estimated at $1 million.
A witness, Art Gibson of Hobbs, said he heard a massive explosion about 6:25 a.m. and saw a ball of fire leap from the building.
Janice Knapp, who lives in a home behind the building, said the explosion felt like an earthquake.
Others said the explosion shook houses seven miles away.
Witnesses said the building collapsed, with flames shooting at least 40 feet in the air.
Police said homes and utilities in the area were damaged. Ceilings came down and windows were blown out in homes and utility poles were knocked down.
Police said the building was located next door to the company which owned it, Watson Truck and Supply.

Santa Fe New Mexican 1985-10-03