The Day the of the Big Boom

January 20, 2016 at 7:42 pm Leave a comment

(to the tune of “Nights went out in Georgia”)

That’s the day that the blast went off in Borger….

That’s the day the glass went flying around

don’t trust your plant to some operator

cuz the streets and the town got ashes on the ground ….

January 20, 1980 … Sunday … Super bowl Sunday but a lot of refinery hands would not get to watch the Oakland annihilate Minnesota. It was 7:30 in the morning and I was rocking out to “Walk This Way” on KQTY Borger. I was the morning DJ. The weather was overcast, heavy fog, snow on ground and cold! So cold I imagine most of the operators got their chores done and back into the warm control room. That probably saved them from serious injuries.

BOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!

What the hell was that?

It’s gotta be the refinery. Phillips 66 has the largest inland refinery (~100,000 barrels a day) in the U.S. in Borger, Tx. I called my boss who was living in Sanford at the time, 15 miles away. I woke him up. Then when the sound waves reached him, he really woke up!

Things were very chaotic from then on. I even got a call from a sweet little lady asking me to slow down the music in between news flashes.  I immediately put on easy instrumentals.

I tried to call the Associated Press and tell them what happened. The guy that answered asked,”how many died?”.  I said that’s unknown. He says to call back when I find out.

As it turned out, no one was killed outright. I heard stories of people being blown out of smokers and such. There were several ceilings that had fallen on beds in Phillips. Amazingly, the glass fronts on the businesses downtown was sucked out into the streets. Burning cooling tower wood was everywhere. People were alerted not to touch it as it might have toxic acid on it.

They say this was the beginning of the end for the town of Phillips, Texas. Now the only building left of the town is the old High School which is being used for offices.

If you were in or around Borger that day, it is etched in your brain (unless of course you were around age 3 or so). I talked to a lady at the Water Store who was in Oklahoma at the time because CoPoly plant was on one of its strikes and no work was around here for hubby.

It wasn’t just another day in the life of this cowboy. I went to work for Phillips at the refinery in June but I never forgot that what happened once could happen again. When you’re dealing with high temps, pressures and rude crude, you’ve got a potential bomb.

 

 

 

Entry filed under: Borger. Tags: , , , .

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