in a Pecan Shell
By Texas standards, Sunray
arrived late; materializing with the oil boom of 1929.
Named after the
Sunray Oil Company in 1931, the town had previously been known as Altman.
The town had a post office in 1930 and incorporated in 1937.
students were bussed to Dumas after their numbers
overwhelmed the local school. The population has remained between 1,500 and 2,000
from the 1950s until the present.
Disaster - See Forum
A. Broxson Grave Marker|
Gibson, August 2009
C. Lilley Grave Marker|
Gibson, August 2009
L. Emmett Grave Marker |
Gibson, August 2009
Fireman's Monument on the Capitol
Grounds in Austin is inscribed with
Sunray's name from the July 29, 1956 fire. |
TE photo 10-04
Texas Forum Subject:
July 29, 1956. Sunray/Shamrock Refinery fire
I would like to add to my brother's, Randy Foshee, comments from 2006. I spent
time with my Dad, Darce Foshee, a couple of years ago talking about the fire.
In my brother's comments he mentions the men running when they realized the tank
had blown. I asked Dad what went through his mind at that moment. He had said
the flames were over their heads and coming down, and he thought, "Let's get it
over with." I've never felt more proud of my Dad than at that moment. I thank
God that I got to have that conversation with him. The family of Ray Biles, one
of Dad's best friends, wasn't afforded that opportunity, and I grieve for them
after all these years. Ray lives in my memory because of the good times Dad has
shared about him. I just thought people should know more of the personal story
involved in "the moment". - Jamey Foshee, May 03, 2012
I will never forget July 29, 1956. I was five years old. The fire siren in Sunray
blew and we could see the smoke from the refinery north of Dumas.
My mother was very scared because my Dad was a volunteer fireman in Sunray. When
the phone rang later my mother started crying... Dad had been badly burned when
one of the tanks exploded. Later, Dad said he could tell the tank was about to
go and he and the men with him began to run. There was a small berm nearby and
Dad was able to get to it. The flames went over Dad and burned the back of his
head and severely burned his arms... but he survived as did other men from the
Sunray volunteer fire department. Sadly, others from the small community fire
department did not. Even though I was very young at the time, I remember some
of the men who died that day and how the whole town of Sunray mourned. Yes, they
are heros.... from a time and place where heroism really meant something. - Randy
Foshee, Canon City, Colorado, September 01, 2006
Fire at Diamond Shamrock July 29, 1956 - 50 Year Memorial
There were 19 men killed by fire and explosion with 33 people injured. Four men
who were fatally injured were employees of the refinery, and thus not included
as members of either Dumas or Sunray Volunteer Fire Departments.
least one man (D.C. Lilley) had his name misspelled [on the monument]. His correctly
spelled name is D.C. Lilley. As his son I have quite a lot of info on this incident.
There are monuments in Sunray and Dumas and a 50 year memorial is planned for
2006 in Dumas.
The NYC firefighters were all headed upward on 9-11-01.
They are among heroes anywhere. Out of over 5 million people, 343 firefighters
died that day. On July 29, 1956, nine men ( 8 firefighters and 1 refinery employee)
died among a town with a population of 1,240.
I consider them all heroes
as well as the men who found them and carried them to medical services. (We don't
know who most of them were.) They have my eternal thanks. The burial of most of
these men was at Lane Memorial Cemetery
located one mile N. of Sunray and approx 1/4 mile east on a (now paved) FM road.
Four of these men were members of the First Baptist Church of Sunray.They
were Broxson, Emmett, D.C. Lilley, and Weir. Funerals were held on July 30 and
31, 1956 with mourners lining both sides of the road from the church to Lane Memorial
I lived northwest across from the church and watched these
funerals. My father's being the last. All funerals were closed casket from this
refinery fire and explosion.
My biggest regrets are my family not meeting
Thanks for the article and time you've spent setting up this
website. May God Bless. - Larry Lilley, Retired Fire Dist. Chief of the Lubbock
Fire Department, Active duty: 27 years, 2 months, Lubbock,
Texas, March 19, 2006
Firefighters of Sunray and Dumas
In 1957 the Shamrock Oil refinery just
south of Sunray exploded and burned. While fighting the fire, the ENTIRE voluteer
fire departments of Sunray and Dumas were killed
in the fire and subsequent explosions. The fire burned for days and many area
firefighters valliantly fought the inferno. The firefighters from Amarillo Airforce
Base arrived with their foam trucks and turned the tide. My cousin Donald Thompson
was a young volunteer fireman from Dumas and he died at the nozzle that day. -
Doug Thompson, Garland, Texas - February 18, 2004
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