Thursday, November 5, 2009

Huge ball of fire

My son was at the computer around 1 a.m. this morning when he said he heard what sounded like a dual-truck backing up in the street and idling very loudly. When he went to look out, the horizon to the west was an orange glow.

He woke us up, and that was certainly what it looked like. Going out in the front yard, a low rumble could be easily heard while sirens seemed to wail from all over. It looked like something out of a movie. What was it? It was a fire obviously, but no ordinary fire. A major plane crash? A gas explosion? What?

We live in the Paramount area and so my son and I decided to take off west and do a little rubbernecking. The glow indicated something was surely there. And about I-40 and Soncy, where view obstructions stopped, you could see it.

A huge fire billowing flames extremely high. It was an unbelievable sight.

But where exactly was it? We kept driving along I-40 and we weren't the only ones. Between nighttime I-40 traffic and those like me, who left the city to go west to get a better look, the traffic was heavy. It was like that after a Friday night football game.

The closer we got, the easier it was to tell it was a natural gas explosion. The flames were being fed and the inferno would just bellow huge fireballs.

As we kept getting closer, it looked like Bushland was its origin. I was afraid it might be the high school as it was real close to the vicinity. As we got closer, it was apparent it wasn't the high school, but just to the west right in and around some new homes.

From I-40, it looked like the high school parking lot was a staging area for firefighting personnel with trucks and other emergency vehicles there. I would estimate the natural gas explosion and resulting fire was 1/2 mile west of the high school. There were reports of flames 700 feet high. I'm not sure it was that high, but 250 to 300 feet at least.

Fellow rubberneckers kept going west, taking the Adkisson Road exit before going back east past it again and on into Amarillo.

I can't imagine what the heat and noise must have been like near ground zero. To hear a low rumble 15 miles away was indicative of the power of that thing. The fire was at the El Paso Natural Gas compressor station. It was nervously close to many homes, too close for those who had to be evacuated. There were only two to three injuries, according to Potter County Sheriff Brian Thomas, and fortunately no fatalities.

Quite a night for a lot of folks.


justpassingthrough said...

I live east of town on Pullman Road. I happened to be leaving my house within 10 or 15 minutes of when it happened per the reports. I could see a huge fireball even from there. I knew it wasn't an ordinary fire of any kind. So that's probably 25 or 30 miles -- so I don't doubt that flames were leaping 700 feet into the air. The night sky was glowing. Eerily reminiscent of the night of the explosion that eventually ended in the evacuation of the town of Phillips. Praise God no one was killed and that the injured are reported to be okay.

Grady said...

well if I could see the flames from I-27 and I-40 when I got off work at 1:30 then the they had to be taller than 300 ft. Your sense of height is a little off.

s said...

We had thoughts ranging from plane crash, terrorist attack, gas explosion or end of the world. When I heard this morning it was the explosion in Prairie West, it almost made me cry as we lived there about 10 years ago when it was a new subdivision. I'm sure if we'd stayed we would have had to leave too. My heart go out to all those and my prayers as well.