Orange Grove, TX Exxon Company Explosion, Dec 1976


Orange Grove, Tex. (AP) - One man was killed Tuesday when an explosion and fire ripped an Exxon Gas System natural gas compressor station near this South Texas city, sending flames as high as 300 feet.
Nueces County authorities identified the victim as WILLIAM FAULKNER of Odom.
Exxon officials said that one of the four persons at the plant at the time of the explosion, was still missing late in the afternoon. Two escaped injuries and another suffered minor burns that did not require hospitalization.
The names of the employees were not released pending notification of the families.
Fire officials said the explosion occurred shortly after 11 a.m. Exxon spokesmen said the cause has not been determined, but said damage to the station was
A crew of Exxon firefighters helped by area units brought the fire under control early in the afternoon after shutting off the valves that controlled the flow of gas into the compressor.
A 36-inch pipe and a 30-inch pipe run into the station which is part of a pipeline running from the King Ranch gas plant in South Texas to Houston and portions of East Texas.
Exxon spokesmen said steps were taken to bypass the plant and continue service to industrial and commercial customers in Houston and East Texas.
"It sounded like a sonic boom," said John Tolleson, who lives about three miles from the plant.
"I thought it was my neighbor's house until I looked out the window and saw the flames."

The Baytown Sun Texas 1976-12-08