A TITANIC BLAZE.
What would happen, says the New York Evening Post, if all the oil under the earth’s crust were to take fire is a moot point often discussed, especially among the philosophers who leave out of view the usual relation of the atmosphere to combustion.
The terrible scene at Point Breeze the other day on the Schuylkill River, near Philadelphia, when a conflagration that extended over many acres arose from ihe explosion of an oil tank at the works of the Atlantic Refining Company, may be regarded as a tiny episode of the drama that imagination might conceive on the colosal scale just suggested. The tank which first exploded contained six thousind barrels of oil. Sheets of flame were instantly flung for great distances around. All the glass in the neighborhood was shivered into fragments. The walls of several hou es hard by ai once f 11 down. The noise of the outburst was heard for miles; and long bef re Fire Engines could reach the spot flames had spread in every dir ction. The phenomena now occurred that prompt! d our opening reflection. Fire, that is to say, ran in pipes which pass under ground and connect the tanks with a huge warehouse on the river front. This building was six hundred feet long and cont ined more than a hundred thousand gallons of oil; and the addition straightway made on its taking fire to the sea of flame already raging above is described as something stupendous in its furious grandeur.
Of course whatever took fire was consumed, and the loss, which is variously estima ed, must in any case be very heavy. The question is therefore naturally prompted why, since a costly conflagration took place in 1879 on precisely the same spot, precau’ions were not taken of some sort lo prevent the repetition ? Why is it, we may reasonably ask, when enormous quantities of inflammable oil are thus massed in one place, and when human life as well as much property is at stake that no provision soever is made against the most probable of casualties, so that when it comes the destruction is thus sweeping ? We read that ” the distance to the fire was so greit that the Engines and Hose Carts of the city Fire Department were delayed by the exhaustion of the horses, which were relieved by mules from the gas works, meeting them a mile or more fram the scene of the fire.” It is inferable from this that no safeguard whatever existed against fire in all these fifty acres of oil tanks, warehouses and shipping, and that no mechanical con’rivauce has been thought of or applied even for shutting off the oil, in the case of fire, in underground pipes—an expedient which, could it have been employed on the present occasion, might have saved property to the value of many thousands of dollars