Jean, TX Oil Tank Explosion, Jan 1985



An explosion and fire shortly after 8 a.m. Friday killed two men who were working on the Hinson lease about five miles northwest of Jean.
HOMER RAY FORBUS, 37, of Newcastle and JERRY KENNETH ARCHER, 25, of Loving, were killed instantly in the explosion and fire. Miraculously, DAVE ARCHER, 22, and JERRY'S brother, escaped injury although he was standing near one of the tanks that exploded.
The three men, employees of Don Peterson Drilling Company of Loving, were in the process of cleaning out the tanks in one of three tank batteries located on the lease. ARCHER said he was on the west side of the battery and the other two men were on the east side attempting to remove the hatch on the salt water tank when the explosion occurred.
The explosion ripped the salt water tank from top to bottom and hurled pieces of the top across a road on the east side of the battery. Oil in the other two tanks had been removed Thursday and the second tank may have exploded almost immediately after the first, because several residents reported hearing two separate explosions. The middle tank was also split and turned over while the third tank remained standing although the sides were also split. The explosion rattled windows in Jean and Olney.
Immediately after the explosion, fire began burning the oil remaining in the bottom of the tanks and heavy black smoke could be seen for miles in every direction.
Also destroyed were a welding truck and pickup, which held various oil field pipe connections. Both were parked on the east side of the tanks. Fortunately, two other tank batteries located in the immediate area were not involved in the explosion and fire.
Firemen from Olney, Newcastle and Graham responded to the scene but were hampered in their attempts to fight the blaze by an electrical line that was charged and sagging across the road leading to the tanks. A bulldozer operator unloaded his machine and cut a road in order for the trucks to reach the fire. The Newcastle truck had a chemical foam which helped in the firefighting efforts.

Olney Enterprise Texas 1985-01-24