Stanton, TX Oil Rig Explosion, Sep 1981


Stanton, Texas (UPI) -- An explosion at a West Texas drilling rig Sunday shot flames 250 feet into the air, killing three men and badly burning a fourth.
Martin County sheriff's dispatcher Bill Teichman said the men were drilling an initial hole preparatory to adding drilling equipment when their drill bit struck a 12-inch natural gas line buried four feet underground.
He identified the victims as:
JOE GREGG DAWSON, 20, of Midland.
JOHN PAUL HEMPHILL, 32, of Lamesa.
WILLIE JOE WALLER, 41, of Lamesa.
Authorities said DAWSON, who was burned beyond recognition, was an employee of Harris Rathole Service, which was drilling the hole.
The other men worked for Britt Trucking Company.
Another man, identified as DELMAR OILER, 49, also of Lamesa, was listed in serious condition at Lubbock General Hospital with burns over 50 percent of his body.
The accident sent flames 250 feet into the air and the fire was visible 30 miles away.
Fire units from Stanton, Ackerly, Lamesa and Big Spring, Texas, fought the blaze.
Gas to the damaged pipeline was eventually turned off and authorities were letting the fire burn itself out.

Hutchinson News Kansas 1981-09-28