STOP !

Every photograph tells a story.

 

This is Red; I am guessing sometime in the late 60's or early 70's. Its cold and he is wearing insulated coveralls; I have no idea where the job was. I think that's Coots up head;  he just looks thick because of the cold weather gear  but those are his long, dangly arms, pretty sure. There are wide athey wagon tracks to the left of Red in the photo and detonator wire laying on the ground. They have just shot a fire out. There is dust and smoke in the air from the repercussion of the  shot.  Maybe a company man, or a dozer operator wants to follow Red back up to the well and look, but Red has stopped him  dead in his tracks. He and Coots will go survey the damage from the blast, redirect water to keep the wellhead cool, nobody else. The chance for re-ignition is low but still enough for Red to want everyone to stay back for their own safety. If Adair said stop you by God stopped. 

 

About shooting fires out with explosives, once the shot drum is placed in just the right location, in the fire's "mixing chamber,"  the detonator wire is rolled way back away from the well, at least a couple hundred yards, and firefighters will duck  behind a dozer blade for protection when the cap is fired. Pieces of well head and the end of the athey wagon gets blown it bits and it's a good idea to take cover.  Coots would say sometimes on big glycerin shots, 300 pounds or more, the explosion would cause the entire dozer to jump off the ground a few inches. 

 

Twice in Coots career he was around to  load a shot drum, back it into a fire, flee for the back of a  dozer blade to click the detonator and the cap would not fire. They'd have to wait a few minutes  then pull the athey wagon and shot drum out, cool it all down, go look-see what the hell the problem was...then unload all that luke-warm, unstable nitroglycerin and start the whole process over again with all new stuff; new gelatin, cap, wire, everything.

 

Coots told me once in one of those rare moments of absolute candor I will cherish the rest of my life, "thats some scary shit there, pods...I didn't like unloadin' them goddamn drums with a misfired cap buried in the middle of all that dynamite, no sir...not one goddamn bit."  

 

 

 

 

 

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