Explosions & Fire at Fractionation Plant Rock Marshall County Residents

by Duane Nichols on September 23, 2013

Explosions & Fire: See Video

Marshall County Community Wonders About Safety After Plant Fire

From the Article by Jake Kauffman, WTRF – TV, Channel 7 News, September 22, 2013

See also the NEWS 7 video of this fire, at the Blue Racer Fractionation Plant which is jointly owned by Dominion Resources and Caiman Energy.

It was definitely not something you want to hear in the middle of the night, a natural gas plant next to your house is on fire and could potentially blow up. But quick thinking by some neighbors and authorities helped keep everyone safe in one small Marshall County community.

Just before 1:30 AM on Saturday morning, a Marshall County Sheriff’s deputy notice one stack at the still-under-construction Dominion plant off of Route 2 was on fire. 

The small community of Kent is right down Route 2 from the Dominion plant and we’re rocked by the sounds of explosions once the stack caught fire. ”We just started hearing explosions, then I heard something that sounded like a crash and then another big explosion. We decided at about that time that we better get out,” said Arwana Wade, a Kent resident. 

Once the Wade’s decided it was time to head to safety, Arwana’s husband Delbert started making sure his neighbors were safe. ”I got excited and starting waking the neighbors up, we got a widow woman living next door to me with a blind daughter and there’s a couple of older people around the neighborhood and they all kind of look to me,” said Delbert Wade.

The fire was finally put out around 8:30 AM Saturday morning and Route 2 was reopened around 9:30 AM. Although there were no injuries this time, the neighbors are still worried about what might happen once Dominion finishes construction on the plant.

“We don’t feel safe, we don’t know if it’s going to get any worse,” said Delbert Wade. “I mentioned it to them before and they said ‘We have it under control. It’s just releasing pressure on the smoke stack.’ But they didn’t tell us it was going to blow up and shoot fire everywhere.”

The 7 News staff did speak with Dan Donivan of Dominion and they are currently working with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to find out what sparked the fire Saturday morning.


In 1937 Nearly 300 Texas Students were Killed by a Wet Gas Explosion

Nearly 300 students in Texas are killed by a 1937 explosion of natural gas at their school.

The Consolidated School of New London, Texas, sat in the middle of a large oil and natural gas field. The area was dominated by 10,000 oil derricks, 11 of which stood right on school grounds. The school was newly built in the 1930s for close to $1 million and, from its inception, bought natural gas from Union Gas to supply its energy needs. The school’s natural gas bill averaged about $300 a month.

Eventually, officials at Consolidated School were persuaded to save money by tapping into the wet-gas lines operated by Parade Oil Company that ran near the school. Wet gas is a type of waste gas that is less stable and has more impurities than typical natural gas. At the time, it was not completely uncommon for consumers living near oil fields to use this gas.

At 3:05 p.m. on March 18, a Thursday afternoon, the 694 students and 40 teachers in attendance at the Consolidated School were looking forward to the final bell, which was to ring in 10 minutes. Instead, a huge and powerful explosion, which literally blew the roof off of the building, leveled the school. The blast was felt by people 40 miles away and killed most victims instantly. People rushed to the scene to pull out survivors; hundreds of injured students were hauled from the rubble.

Miraculously, some students walked away unharmed; 10 of these were found under a large bookcase that shielded them from the falling building. First-aid stations were established in the nearby towns of Tyler, Overton, Kilgore and Henderson to tend to the wounded. Reportedly, a blackboard at the destroyed school was found that read, Oil and natural gas are East Texas’ greatest natural gifts. Without them, this school would not be here and none of us would be learning our lessons.

The exact cause of the spark that ignited the gas was never found, although it is now known that the gas could have been ignited by static electricity. As a result of this incident, wet gas was required to be burned at the site rather than piped away.

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