The driver of the fuel truck involved in the tragic explosion and fire in Windthorst on the afternoon of September 24 was 31 year old Sandan Shea Foster of Wichita Falls. He was killed in the incident. According to Archer County Chief Deputy the fire is being investigated by the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office with an official report on the cause to come in a month or so after the investigation. By all accounts it appears to be a tragic accident, made all the more tragic as it was Foster’s first day on the job with Texoma Petroleum in Wichita Falls.
Foster recently moved to Wichita Falls from the Lubbock area with his wife Kari and five month old son Qorban Brave. A Facebook fundraiser was established to help with the young family’s expenses. The goal of $15,000 was quickly exceeded with generous contributions from all over the Wichita Falls area.
Dwyer, who was one of the first officers on the scene, said, “One thing I can’t speak enough about are the fire departments. Everybody was outstanding. They just stepped up.” Units from Windthorst VFD, Scotland VFD, Archer City VFD, Bowman VFD, Arrowhead Ranch VFD, Wichita Falls FD, and the Sheppard Air Force Base FD all were engaged in handling the situation.
Windthorst VFD Chief Dale Scheffe and Archer County Emergency Management Coordinator, Shane Wright, were on site coordinating the response by the various departments. Wright said the management of the situation involved everyone doing their part from law enforcement, emergency first responders, and fire departments. He said, “There were a lot of moving parts.” With the mutual aid from all over the area the crisis was managed and contained very well.
The Sheppard firefighters with extensive experience in liquid spills arrived on the scene to assist at the request of the Wichita Falls FD. The Wichita Falls FD responded to a request for mutual aid from Wright. WFFD provided hazardous material capabilities and fire investigation personnel.
Dwyer also said, “I really think it would have been a lot worse had it not been for Windthorst and Scotland getting on that fire as quickly as they did.” Courageous early intervention prevented secondary explosions of above ground storage tanks and damage to Suzette’s and Joe’s Kwik Stop on US 281 just north of the Hwy 25 intersection. Traffic on US 281 was rerouted until the fire was extinguished and the scene cleared later in the afternoon.