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Panhandle remembers history of past area explosions

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As the people of West continue to push through the loss and tragedy following the fertilizer plant explosion, the people of the Texas Panhandle are remembering and reflecting on similar horrors right here at home.

The Texas Panhandle has endured several massive explosions throughout the years, some claiming many lives, others just causing destruction. But all of them, leaving scars on hearts.

"You just heard boom and saw two guys fly through the air and the other two on the ground, so we took off running," said one witness of the 2007 Dumas Valero Plant explosion.

His description is similar to that of those who witnessed the explosion in West. But even before that witness' description of one 2007 disaster was caught on camera, several massive explosions rocked the Texas Panhandle like the massive blast at the Shamrock Oil Tank Farm in Dumas in 1956 that killed 19 men and injured more than 30 others. Twenty-one years later in 1977, a machine explosion killed three Pantex employees.  In 1987, another 30 people were injured and three more killed in a massive explosion at the Celanese Plant near Pampa.

People of the Panhandle also might remember another explosion in more recent years, the blast that sent the Dumas Valero Plant up in flames and smoke. It happened in 2007 when liquid propane and chlorine ignited, causing a massive blast. The black plume of smoke was seen from as far away as 60 miles. Four people were injured and some 400 were evacuated.

Just about one year later, in 2008, the Sid Richardson Borger Carbon Plant erupted into flames when an explosion is said to have occurred above a boiler at the plant. That blast sent eight people to the hospital.

A gas line explosion in 2009 also wreaked havoc on the community of Bushland, injuring three and evacuating hundreds. Similarly, in Darrouzett just a year later (2010), a worker digging near a gas pipeline sparked an explosion, this one fatal. Two people were killed, another three injured.

Despite being nearly explosion free in the Panhandle even more recently, it's these memories that allow the people of the Panhandle to relate and reach out to the hearts of those suffering in West.

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