Monday, February 18, 2008

Alon, USA

If you haven't heard the news, an oil refinery called Alon, USA exploded this morning in my hometown of Big Spring, TX. I have never experienced anything like it. Here's how it went down...

I arrived at my office at 8 AM this morning. At 8:20 I was getting ready to go teach my Substance Abuse class when I felt the blast. I was sitting at my computer about to check my email and then it sounded and felt like a bomb went off on the compound that I was at. It's hard for me to describe it, but dust started falling from the ceiling. After a couple seconds of just sitting there wondering what the heck happened I went and looked outside towards the oil refinery on the East side of town and saw a huge mushroom-looking cloud starting to form. I immediately went back to my office and called my wife because she was at our house which is about 1-2 miles away. To give some perspective, my office is about 10 miles away from the refinery on the opposite side of town. Amber answered the phone and said that everything was okay, but that she was definitely startled. She said that the glasses on our window seal in the kitchen fell off and that the bed shook pretty dramatically. Our dog in the backyard was cowering under some bushes and whimpering. Amber got our daughter (and dog) and we went to my parents' house in Ackerly, TX about 30 miles North of town. I am now back in my office.

To give an overall picture of the damage...

Some buildings downtown (~2 miles away) had all of the windows blown out. One person was injured that was driving on I-20 right beside the plant when it exploded. 4 Alon employees were injured. One person's house near the refinery had the front door and door frame blown off. And now for the miracle: THERE WERE NO DEATHS! If you were here you would understand how insane that is. The gracious providence of God manifested itself today. First off, it is President's Day so 50% of the employees (out of ~170) were not even there. Second, only part of the plant exploded. Had it been the entire thing I don't think I would be here to type this... no joke. Apparently, someone realized that their was a gas leak and immediately told the workers. As soon as they heard they started running and got all the way to the parking lot before it exploded. The blast threw them all to the ground and sent nails into cars and tires. One person was sent to Lubbock with 2nd and 3rd degree burns. Please pray for the families of those that were injured. The fire is now contained and there is still a HUGE pillar of black smoke rising from the site. I do not want to experience anything like that again. I know several people that work there, including a very good friend, our landlord, the father of my best friend when I was little, and a couple of people that go to church with my parents. To the best of my knowledge all are okay. If anything else in this town explodes I'll let you know. peace.


Unknown said...

I just saw this on the Louisville news about 30 minutes ago. I am glad you, and the family are alive.

chance n said...

Me too. Too bad it takes a whole lot of destruction for Big Spring to get on the map.

Eron said...


Dag! I saw that on CNN. I didn't realize that was that close to Big Spring...and you.

Glad everything is fine. If I were a dog, I would cower too...probably...unless I was a rotweiler or a german shepherd...then I would be all brave, etc.

But, seriously, it looks like an A bomb went off.

chance n said...

Ha. It felt like one went off too. I don't know how exaggerated this information is, but apparently Alon, USA is one of the top sites for a possible terrorist attack in the US because 1) It's really big (70,000 barrels of gasoline produced every day) and 2) It's owned by Israel (apparently Israel and its neighbors still don't get along very well.)

Our dog is a female beagle... turns out female beagles are cowards.