Now anyone that even has a casual interest in history would be hard pressed to believe in such an animal as a 60’s era Ford Long-Bed Fire Truck, especially if it only had 4 wheels. In fact, if you could produce an authentic one, you could likely name your price and go down in history and the Guinness Book. But things aren’t always known for what they are so much as what they do.
Now this story is one of Red Roberts’ and takes place in the oil fields of West Texas. I’ve mentioned fire and oil field, so you may have leaped ahead to thoughts of the legendary Red Adair. You know, John Wayne played his real-life character in the acclaimed 1968 movie “Hellfighters.”
Members of Adair’s company flew all over the world putting out oil field fires that would erupt from the drill stem on a derrick. It is indeed a dangerous business. Now, if you have made that leap, you are in the wrong place.
This short ditty is about a derrick fire, but the key player here is a Ford long-bed pickup, not a famous individual. The Pickup is entirely responsible for its choice to be heroic in this event.
It seems that a great deal of effort had gone into drilling this particular well and its location was somewhat remote. Every precaution and safety measure are always of paramount concern when drilling under these circumstances, and Red’s crew was exceptional.
Nonetheless, the well blew sending flames a hundred feet in the air. It was impossible to get to any valves that could shut down the flow and try as they could, phone calls to all, no well-known emergency crews were available. Now a burning oil well is a mess, tangled metal from the derrick etc., just a real mess not to mention the monetary loss and subsequent costs to be incurred.
Night began to creep up and over the low hill, a pair of pickup lights appeared, speeding toward the disaster. Apparently, someone had gotten one of the many messages and was headed, in a hurry, to see what could be done.
The supervisors and well owners were surprised and grateful that help was on the way. Then they noticed that the help was coming in a real hurry and not slowing down as they were approaching the well-head. Not only was the vehicle not slowing down, people were jumping out of the back of the pickup, the doors opened and men in hard hats were diving out of the cab.
The pickup shot straight into the burning well-head, the gas tank exploded taking all the oxygen away from the fire and extinguishing it.
The Well Owners were shocked at the tactic. As the pickup crew approached the owners, they were asked about the unorthodox, obviously expensive but decisive method used to extinguish the fire, and whose idea it was.
The crew responded, “not our idea at all sir, the brakes went out.”
Check out the movie Hellfighters, top notch entertainment, especially if you are a John Wayne fan.