Oil Refinery Explosion Shakes Big Spring - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/18/08

Oil Refinery Explosion Shakes Big Spring

Around 8:20 a.m. Monday an explosion at the Alon Oil Refinery in Big Spring jolted the small town and that same explosion could be felt as far as Lubbock.

"Actually I was sitting at my desk and I'm surrounded by windows and the doors just swung open and shut and all I did was just kind of freeze," Letitia Torrez said.

"My fear was that everything was going to be leveled," said resident Jarry Fulgham.

Fulgham and Torrez work 15 miles from the Alon Refinery. Their concern then turned to the black smoke that billowed into the air.

"It does concern me because of the toxics. What is it?? It's unknown what's in the air," Torrez said.

"I still have fear, yes, not only for another explosion but for the gas fumes and other fumes that could come out into the community," added Fulgham.

Big Spring authorities are working hand in hand with Alon executives to determine exactly what happened to cause the explosion Monday morning.

"We are having constant conversations with Alon. We've got a command post inside and they are updating us every 15 to 20 minutes and so we're keeping our eye on it to make sure public safety is taken care of," said Big Spring Mayor, Russ McEwen.

Even Congressman Randy Neugebauer changed his schedule to make it to Big Spring.

"The Alon folks are steadily evaluating what's going on here. I feel very confident that they have a hold on what's going on and what things they need to be doing," said Congressman Neugebauer.

Big Spring residents like Carie Dunnum, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, say when you live in Big Spring, you know the dangers of the refinery.

"Just coming from a town with a refinery that's very close, we're very aware that is a source of a possible catastrophe," said Dunnam.

Dunnam was sitting at her desk in the administration building when the explosion literally shook the building.

"An enormous boom, it sounded like something was ripping off the ceiling. There were dust particles floating down. I never heard anything like that before, never felt anything like that before. The building also shook," Dunnam added.

"If you have a refinery it's going to happen. It doesn't matter how well a refinery is run, you're dealing with volatile chemicals and things like this happen," added Mayor McEwen.

Officials here in big spring say they're not sure how long it will take to put that fire out or how long it will take to get the refinery back online.

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