Many Buildings of Gas Plant Threatened ~ Only One Burned
Indianapolis Department Saves Large Plant—Conduit Threatens to Spread Blaze—Salamanca Fire Due to Carelessness—Week’s Fires
A HOT box on a benzol turbine was responsible for a fire which threatened the immense plant of the Citizens’ Gas Company in the southeastern part of Indianapolis, Ind., and required the use of both water and foam extinguishers to put it out, according to an account furnished by Chief J. J. O’Brien, of the Indianapolis fire department. The alarm was telephoned from the gas company at 12:26 p. m., the fire having originated on the first floor of the benzol building of the utility. The plant is composed of 38 buildings, located east of the Belt Railroad and from 600 to 1,000 feet north of Prospect St. There were 26 tanks of benzol, with a total capacity of 256000 gallons. Six of these tanks and their contents were destroyed, besides 7,066 gallons of light oil, 9,799 gallons of crude motor oil, 600 gallons of refined solvent naphtha, 2,531 gallons of gal oil, 5,300 pounds of naphthalene, 877 pounds of caustic acid and 435 gallons of 66 degree sulphuric acid. Extending from the benzol building was a conduit, 1,200 feet long, 3 feet wide and 4 feet deep, which passed along the side of the other buildings. After the first explosion the conduit was filled with burning oil which exploded twelve times, blowing the wooden covers off the conduit and placing all of the other buildings in danger from fire. The blaze in the conduit was controlled by filling it with slack coal and then putting out the fire with a foam type extinguisher, 120 gallons of this material being used in the work.
The square feet of all of the buildings was 135,465, and the area of the benzol building was 40×60 feet. It was three stories in height and constructed of brick. There were eighty-five men under command of Chief O’Brien at the fire. Two Stutz 750-gallon, three Stutz 600-gallon, one American-LaFrance 700-gallon and one Ahrens-Fox 750gallon pumpers were in service. Five 6-inch hydrants were available, about 500 feet apart, with a pressure of 60 pounds at the hydrant. Six engine streams and one from the private hydrants of the gas company were thrown. The employees of the gas company at the beginning of the fire were operating three lines from their own pump, but two of these were destroyed by an explosion and the other line was taken over and operated by the members of the fire department. Some of the hydrants were from 1,000 to 2,000 feet from the fire and booster pumpers were used on three of these lines. The street main was 12-inch with six and eight-inch leads to the private hydrants. In all 9,450 feet of hose were laid, of which one length burst during the fire. A deluge set was also brought into service. The illustrations herewith are shown through the courtesy of Chief O’Brien. The fire, in spite of its threatening aspects, was confined to the benzol building, which was valued at $25,000 and its contents at $155,000, both of which were total loss. Several firemen were slightly burned during the fire, which lasted five hours and twenty-nine minutes.