One of our group has offered up a glimpse into his writing world this week. Isn’t that exciting? Here is an excerpt from Wayne’s work-in-progress called, “My First Trip”.
I don’t recall the plant guys telling me anything about the riots. I was so busy doing my own thing that I never paid much attention to them all bunched up around a television set. I just wanted to get some sleep. At this time in the morning there normally would have been some light traffic going past the refinery, but once again mine was the only vehicle on the road. However, after I drove a couple of blocks, I noticed a police car waiting for me to pass, immediately after I went by, it pulled out behind me and followed me for a couple of blocks. Right after it turned off, another police car would again fall in behind me. This happened all the way back to the hotel, perhaps the plant guys were looking out for me after all.
Things settled down in LA after that day and we got back to work. The refinery expanded the crew so they could cover a 24/7 shift. Graham came down to help me out. The rotor was removed and set in a stand just before sunrise. Graham and I were evaluating the damage and recording our findings. There was a bright halogen light behind me and I could feel its pleasant heat through my clothes. The sun was also rising and that was heating my back as well. But something seemed unusual, the heat was increasing far too fast. At first I thought the light was falling on me. When I turned to check the light, I was facing the refinery flare. The top was about 200 feet above me, it looked like a giant candle, white liquid was flowing down like wax and flames were desperately trying to catch up to the liquid. The flame was at least twice the height of the flare. The liquid fell to the ground and the flames seemed to pounce on each puddle like a cat catching a mouse. People were yelling to get out of the area. Others were running out to the road, many headed downhill, but there was a LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) tank down there; Graham and I ran straight out along another road, and many others followed us..
When we considered we were safe we stopped and looked back at the flare. Except for some small flames on the guy wires and small fires burning on the ground and roofs, it was back to normal. The flare flame was about half the height of the flare pipe.
We wandered back to the job, a roll call was taken to account for everyone. It was some time before we could settle back into our work. One of our techs was up on top of the HRSG, he was probably only 150 feet from the flames, and the stairs to go down brought him closer to the flames. He was seriously considering jumping rather than burning to death, but as he went down the shape of HSRG shaded him from the flames and the heat. There were others techs in a workshop at the front of the turbine, it was the closest building to the flare. The gas liquid fell on the roof of the building and all over the parking area between the building and the turbine. The workers inside the building feared for their lives, but they made the right decision to stay inside the building. Luckily no one was hurt. And also luckily there was very limited damage. The flare was inspected and continued in use for several days.
Later I heard that an operator didn’t check the gauges before he pumped about 15,000 gallons of gas to the full flare holding tank. That fire burned 15,000 gallons of gasoline in about three minutes.
Needless to say, the talk for the rest of that week was about the fire. On Saturday we went to Red Lobster for dinner. While I was returning to our table, I notice those little hanging signs they have at Red Lobster were all moving. I really didn’t feel much because I was walking, but the guys sitting in the booth were all excited because they had never experienced an earthquake before.
Quite a trip!
Feel free to leave Wayne a comment!