Gladewater, TX Oil Well Explosion, Apr 1931
FLAMING TEXAS OIL WELL CLAIMS LIVES OF SEVEN; IS UNCONQUERED.
FIRE BREAKS OUT SHORTLY BEFORE WORKMEN NEAR SUCCESS IN CAPPING WILD GUSHER; BELIEVE RUMOR THAT MORE MEET DEATH IS UNFOUNDED; TWIST OF FATE SAVES FOREMAN.
Gladewater, Texas, April 28 -- (AP) -- Flaring heavenward in fiery defiance after it had blasted at least seven men to death in liquid fire and injured three others, the Sinclair No. 1 Cole well, two miles southwest of Gladewater, was unquenched today.
Taming of the wild gusher was within a few minutes of accomplishment late yesterday when friction in the lowering of a valve ignited millions of feet of gas gushing from the casing. Fire shot skyward and a terrific explosion followed, igniting the gusher and oil filled slush pits.
The crew of ten terrified workmen ran screaming from the scene, the clothing of nine afire. Sinclair Oil company officials and workers were checking rumors that 14 or 15 persons, including spectators, were killed.
The known dead:
ROY BLANKENSHIP, Seminole, Okla.
GEORGE ALBRIGHT, Oklahoma City.
VIRGIL WOLTZ, Oklahoma City.
BILL HARROUN, Oklahoma City.
BOB MURDOCK, Oklahoma City.
W. H. McCLASSIN, JR., Winona, Okla.
W. H. McCLASSIN, SR., Winona, Okla.
The injured were:
TOM COLE, part owner of the well.
JOHN KEYS, 9, Oklahoma City.
FRANK FELOCK, 35, Longview.
KEYS and FELOCK were in Longview Texas Hospitals, dangerously injured. Physicians said they probably would die. The younger McCLASSIN died after being rescued from the flames.
LEE BRUMLEY, foreman of the drilling crew for the Lofflin Drilling company of Tulsa, Okla., said he did not believe any others lost their lives.
BRUMLEY said he escaped death by a freak of the blast which hurled him 20 yards away from the derrick and out of the path of the boiling flaming oil. COLE was burned about the hands when he seized one of the crew who ran from the scene, his clothing ablaze. COLE tripped the workman and tore the flaming clothing from his body.
Evening Huronite South Dakota 1931-04-29