Timothy Joseph Price

Photo courtesy of Joshua Brackett's Eagle Scout Project
Photo courtesy of Joshua Brackett's Eagle Scout Project

(August 20, 1961 - June 9, 1992)

The Lusk Herald
June 10, 1992

Cheyenne fire claims life of former Lusk resident

A midday explosion at Frontier Oil Refinery in Cheyenne claimed the life of a former Lusk resident Monday.

Timothy Price, son of Richard and Suzy Price of Lusk, was mortally burned in the explosion. According to reports, the 30-year-old was burned over 94 percent of his body. Seventy-four percent of his body had full thickness burns meaning every layer of skin was burned. He died around 4 a.m. Tuesday, June 9, in the Northern Colorado Burn Center in Greeley, Colo.

Authorities investigating the explosion and fire were still uncertain of the cause of the tragedy at press time.

Price was a 1979 graduate of Niobrara County High School in Lusk.

Three other workers were also flown to the Greeley facility with critical burns. Two are life-threatening with 86 and 75 percent burns and the other had 28 percent of his body burned. Two other workers were sent to DePaul with less dangerous burns.

Authorities say five of the more than 100 oil tanks somehow caught fire in the refinery's southeast corner. About 55 Cheyenne and refinery firefighters responded to the fire. A section of I-80 was closed for about 30 minutes because of dense smoke and poor visibility.

The fire in the smaller tank with 20,000 gallons of naphtha, a petroleum product, was put out early in the afternoon. The 250,000-gallon tank of a raw form of unleaded gasoline burned until 5:15 p.m., according to Gerald Faudel, environmental director for the company.

Faudel doubted the explosion would seriously affect operations at the refinery, a subsidiary of Houston-based Wainoco Corp. The refinery produces about 80 percent of the gasoline and diesel fuel used in the Cheyenne area and supplies dealers as far away as Colorado Springs.

Many of the refinery's 130 employees were on lunch break when the explosion occurred, officials said.

Lusk Herald
June 17, 1992
Cause of fire still not known

The cause of the fire that claimed the life of a former Lusk man is still under investigation, according to Steve Foster, administrator for the Occupational Health and Safety Administration in Cheyenne.

He said the investigation team has determined where the fuel came from that exploded killing Timothy Price and severely injuring several other workers at the Frontier Refinery in Cheyenne on Monday, June 8.

"The source came from the weekend prior the refinery had a problem in one of its alkylation units. With that problem they were pumping butane into available empty tanks on the property. One of those tanks was a small tank. Over the weekend waste oil was pumped up and was sitting in a pipeline that is steam heated. It is steam heated so the product won't freeze in the winter. I don't know what the temperature of the product was but it could have been anywhere from 100 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

"On Monday morning they began pumping the waste oil into a tank that had liquid butane in it. The butane began to liquefy (expand) with the hot oil coming in. It created a vapor inside the air space in the tank. At some point the tank either ruptured, or because of a six inch open outlet to the open atmosphere, the butane ignited.

"When the fire started, on the failure of the small tank, at some point the roof of the tank came off," he said.

He added the cause of the ignition is still under investigation.

"There was a truck parked next to the tank. We don't know if it was running or if static electricity could have built up. We're not sure what came first," Foster said.

The investigation will continue until a cause of the spark is determined.

Lusk Herald
June 17, 1992
Timothy Joseph Price

Funeral services for Timothy Joseph Price, 30, were held at 2 p.m. Friday, June 12, 1992 in the Bader-Peet Mortuary in Lusk with Rev. Richard Kalber and Rev. Mark Lohr officiating. Burial followed in the Lusk Cemetery.

Price died Tuesday, June 9, 1992, at the Northern Colorado Medical Center in Greeley, Colo., from injuries received during an explosion at the Frontier Oil Refinery in Cheyenne on Monday. He was born Aug. 20, 1961, in Lusk, the son of Richard and Suzanne Price.

He graduated from Niobrara County High School in Lusk where he participated in athletics and sports. He attended Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne for two years. At the time of his death he was employed at the refinery in Cheyenne.

He was a member of St. George's Episcopal Church in Lusk. His interests included carpentry, motorcycles, music, dogs and most of all children.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Melony and his grandparents, Frances and Evan Worley and Howard Price.

Survivors include his parents, Richard and Suzanne Price of Lusk; two brothers, Richard of Palm Springs, Calif. and Thomas of Casper; his children, Morey and Nicole Ekholm of Denver, Colo.; his paternal grandmother, Mrs. Margaret Price of Humboldt, Iowa; in-laws, Bill and Debbie Schutt of Cheyenne; aunts and uncles, Gail and Don Denkinger of Waterloo, Iowa; Rita and Charles Wise of Van Tassell; Marcella and Glen Fitch of Harrison, Neb.; John Henry of Cheyenne; Loren and Geri Worley of Wildwood, Calif.; Robert Koch of Tecumseh, Neb. and many cousins.

For those who wish memorials to the Cathedral Home for Children in Laramie, Wyo., will be appreciated by the family.

Bader-Peet Mortuary was in charge of arrangements.

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