Five Tank Steamships Burn with 80,000 Barrels of Oil
Constable Hook, Bayonne, N. J., was the scene of another oil fire a few days ago. The recent fire was the most disastrous of any that has occurred to the Standard Oil Company in a long time, the damage being placed at nearly $1,000,000. Five oil steamers and 80,000 barrels of oil were devoured by the flames. The fire started from an explosion on the tank steamer Dunholme, just as she was ready to sail for England with 90,000 barrels of oil. A part of the ship was torn away and flames began to eat their way toward the first oil tank, The 40 members of the crew fought the blaze stubbornly while from every pier along the waterfront, tugs catching the danger signal, started toward the threatened spot to begin the work of towing and pushing the other oil ships beyond reach of the blazing Dunholme. When the fire reached the first oil tank on the Dunholme, a pillar of flame rose to the skies, and, fountain-like, poured the burning oil down onto the decks, dropping it overboard to the water about the pier and throwing it over the ships nearby. In this way four other ships caught fire. The burning oil was thrown to the deck of the Narragansett, the biggest oil tank steamship in the world, and just in from England, but the crew fought the flames furiously, and she was saved. Burning oil was thrown onto the decks of the Saxaline, but there, too, the blaze was fought and conquered, and she was shoved to a place of safety. But there was no saving the Concordia or the steamship Hohenzollern, loaded with 70,000 barrels of oil. Their crews forsook them, while, with the doomed Dunholme, they were shoved out into the waters of New York bay. The 40 members of the Dunhohne’s crew fought stubbornly to prevent the flames reaching the second oil tank, but it was not possible. One-half mile from shore the flames attacked the second oil tank. Again the geyser of burning fluid shot into the air, to fall down on the decks and spill over into the sea, there to spread a blazing circle for 500 feet around. The men of the Dunholme, just before the second tank exploded, knew that the end was at hand, and, giving up the fight, they jumped overboard and swam away from the burning ships. This was seen by the tug which retreated from the circle of danger. Then came the outpouring of flaming oil, and in its light, which made the waters of the bay seem as though they were lighted by some strange, grotesque sun, the work of rescue began. All around the circle of flame on the water’s surface the tugs of the company scouted for the scattered crew of the Dunholme. Even as the work went on came the explosion of the third tank, the dull reverberation and the pillar of flame. One after another for the space of an hour, the tanks shot forth their burning oil, weirdly illuminating all the waterfront. G. B. Gifford, general superintendent of the Standard Oil properties at Bayonne, returned to shore on a tug. He brought with him Captain Husband, his wife and his two daughters and all the members of the crew of the Dunholme. They had all jumped into the water, and were gathered in beyond the circle of the burning oil. Besides the five vessels to which the flames spread, three of the company’s piers caught some of the burning oil and were soon in flames. These were successfully fought with fireboats and by lines of hose from the shore, but not until after considerable damage had been done.