(Photo is actually from the fire at Bakersfield refinery)
It was a cold January day in the Pacific Northwest. I was working in a small pipe cage about 10 feet in the air, boxed in by hot pipes feeding into the furnace below me where the crude oil is heated to about 900 Degrees before going to the flash tower. I was calibrating a couple flow transmitters up on the platform. My partner was talking with the operator. We were late for our coffee break and a chance to warm up, but I wanted to finish the Job so that I would not have to climb back up in the tight overheard space, because you are trapped once you are in there. I felt a sense of urgency that was more that a desire for Coffee or warmth, to get out of that confined trapped location.
There was a crew of Mechanics starting another job just below where I was working. They were opening a large 3 FT. diameter pipe. I finished my job and got my partner and went across the street to get some coffee. I just sat down in the break room when there were two very loud explosions that rocked me out of my seat. We ran to the door and saw a huge ball of fire coming from the Crude unit and pieces of metal still going upward and other pieces falling. We ran to the crude unit to help. Exactly where I had been working moments earlier was total devastation and engulfed in flames. If I had remained there I would have been trapped on the small platform in the middle of this explosion and fire.
I performed rescue and first aid with several men. A dozen were hurt and burned. The one I was helping was burned so bad that I could not tell who he was. I was afraid he would call me by name as I would not be able to do the same. I stayed with him and tried to help until the Helicopter came to transport him to the Burn center in Seattle. ,He died later that night, leaving a small child and young wife who was pregnant with their second.
This does not seem like a miracle in it’s telling, however this was not the only time that the Lord took me out of danger at the very last moment and saved my life. It is only one of a dozen or more of such events. Why was I saved and the other men working there were not? Only God can answer that. Perhaps it was their own salvation being worked out in fear and trembling. I leave the angst over it with the Lord. But I know the Lord removed me just in time as he had done many times in the past.
Another example of God’s taking us out of the way; I was working this time in Alaska at the Alaska Pipeline pump station Number 1 in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. The pumps that move the oil from the North Slope to the Pipeline Terminal in Valdez, 840 miles south has nearly one dozen pump stations. At each of these pump stations the crude oil is pumped by three large high pressure pumps delivering around 1000 psi of pressure into the 4 foot diameter main crude oil line. The energy for these pumps, moving the 2 million barrel per day flow, was produced by three ‘Rolls Royce Avon’ Jet Engines, each producing about 17,800 horse power.
When running at this flow rate we had to have all three pumps running therefore periodic maintenance checks were done ‘on the fly’, while the engines were running top speed. To get a mental picture of this, it means going inside a sound reduction steel room with electronic test gear and bypassing the safety shutdowns and one at a time taking things like the vibration sensors off the engine and testing them and doing a calibration. For part of this preventative maintenance you had to either climb up on top of the engine, or lay down and slide under it to access the sensors. Meanwhile the engine is running almost 8000 RPM’s. The sound of the engine is unbelievable. We wore ear plugs and over them had our noise cancelling -radio headsets thereby providing double sound protection. Imagine crawling inside an aircraft engine while it is flying at maximum output. Everything was checking out OK on the turbine and as I finished the calibrations I had an unusual sense of urgency to get out of the enclosure. So I gathered my tools stepped out of the enclosure, notified the control room so that the safety overrides could be put back into the normal position and headed to the Pump station control room to sign off my work permit. When I arrived at the control room we suddenly had a fire alarm and engine shut down in the same engine I had been working on. They asked if I had left anything open or in a faulted condition. I told them that everything was back in service. So we ran back to the engine compartment and when we went inside the fire was already out because of the automatic ‘Halon’ discharge ( a fire extinguisher chemical) but the Jet engine had suffered a catastrophic failure and had literally broken in two. The hundreds of steel blade that had been the internal parts of the Jet Turbine compressor were broken into knife like steel shards and had impaled the inside of the steel sound reduction enclosure. It was like turning a Porkupine in-side -out. The cause of this event, it was discovered, came from the outside of the building where a large piece of ice had formed on each of the air-intakes of the three engines and on number two it had broken loose and been ingested into the jet engine causing a chain reaction of destruction.
If I had still been inside the enclose I would certainly have been a blood coating over the pile of wreckage. But again our God took us out of the way. And I praise Him for his loving kindness and care for us. Do you pray before you drive? I do. Do you pray before doing dangerous tasks like climbing ladders and using power tools? I do. Do you thank God for his protection in the simple every day chores of life? I do. I think that we should all have a running dialog with the Lord concerning all that we do. There is in fact a host of demons looking for way to destroy us all. But Our God is the creator and the righteous judge and by Messiah Yeshua this legion of demons is already defeated. I thank God this is so. And in the troublous times ahead we should all be walking totally in step on that narrow path that leads to our goal. WE must learn to be sensitive to the small whispered voice of the spirit in us telling us which way to go.
"When you awake in the morning, learn something to inspire you and mediate upon it, then plunge forward full of light with which to illuminate the darkness." -Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
Jewish adventures in the diaspora.
Scripture, ethics and spiritual formation