5,000,000 GALLONS FUEL DESTROYED AT OIL REFINERY NEAR LINDEN, N. J.
Twenty-two Tanks Involved in Fire Which Lasted Sixteen Hours — New York City Sends Fireboats—Nearby Oil Plants Saved
FlVE million gallons of gasoline and fuel oil were consumed in a sixteen-hour fire which started recently in the Cities Service Oil Company plant near Linden, N. J.
Fire started at 12:45 p.m., and for a time it was believed that it would go no further than the sixty-acre storage section of the plant. A tank in the southeast part of this section, containing 1,050,000 gallons of high test gasoline was the first to explode. The cause was uncertain, for but a few minutes before, the tank had been inspected, and found in good condition. The explosion rattled the windows of nearby homes. The top of this tank fell between some freight cars.
A ten-tank train, fully loaded, on a nearby siding, was hauled out of range in time.
A one-story brick building housing the pumping equipment was soon surrounded by flames and it was impossible to pump down the level of oil in the other tanks.
The plant, located three miles southeast of Linden, had 175 storage tanks and a refining plant. Nearby was the Sinclair plant and the American Cyanamid Company plant, and that of the Standard Oil Company with 800 tanks.
Dykes Built to Hold Burning Oil
By 7 p.m., the fire had reached the loading shed of the Sinclair plant, which was destroyed, and also a warehouse. During the afternoon, the employees at that plant had been building earthen dykes, to prevent burning oil from flowing into the Sinclair property. The tank nearest to the fire front had been drained during the afternoon.
Fire companies were sent from Elizabeth, Linden, Rahway and Newark, and a foam unit from the nearby plant of the Standard Oil Company. New York City sent its powerful fireboat, the John J. Harvey. Two Coast Guard cutters were sent from the base at Stapleton, and three police launches stood guard in the Kill.
After the first series of tank explosions, there was a lull for several hours until 5:15. At that time a 500.000gallon gasoline tank in the center of the bunring area, let go. A fireman of the Linden department received a fractured shoulder bone, as he fell, while rushing to safety.
Foam Powder Brought from New York
Motor cycle policemen escorted tanks of foam powder from New York City and many parts of New Jersey. The fireboats, the Newarker, from Newark, and the John J. Harvey and William J. Gaynor, from New York City, were loaded with foam powders.
The largest tank to be ignited had a capacity of 3,360,000-gallons, but it was only one third full.
Twenty-one Tanks Destroyed
When the fire had subsided to the point where it was possible to take stock of the damage done, it was found that twenty-one tanks and their contents were destroyed, at a total loss of $500,000. Had another tank, near the railroad tracks exploded, the fire would have swept across the tracks of the Central Railroad of New Jersey, which divides the Cities Service plant and entered a field of more than fifty large oil tanks, and a refinery located on the edge of Arthur Kill, opposite Staten Island. This was the chief source of anxiety for the fire fighters, but they were able to prevent this added loss.
At the Sinclair Refining Company plant, wind-swept flames had destroyed a shed containing 125 drums of motor oil.