Mile Long River of Fire Fought by Large Force
Northlake, a suburb west of Chicago, was recently endangered by an unusual fire when winding Addison creek was transformed into a mile long river of fire resulting from gasoline spilled from an over-turned truck trailer.
The original cause of the fire occurred two hours earlier, when the rear trailer of a two trailer gasoline truck overturned. The vehicle belonged to the same Whiting. Ill., concern that owned the truck involved in the street car-gasoline truck holocaust in which 33 persons perished on May 25 on Chicago’s south side.
The tanker driver had turned into North Ave. near the western boundary of North Lake. Traveling east, he came upon two cars parked in the way. In attempting to miss the driver of one of them, the tanker operator swerved his machine, which shot into the parkway. The rear trailer tore loose from its hitch and turned over, spilling out its 3,500 gallon cargo.
As gasoline started draining into a nearby sewer, members of the North Lake Fire Department, who were called, attempted to dilute the volatile liquid with water and speed flushing it down the sewer.
Just how it happened is not determined, but police and fire officials believe that a cigarette discarded by a passing motorist ignited the gasoline on the creek’s surface. This was reported at about two hours after the accident.
The fire started near the intersection of North and Prater streets and spread rapidly along the creek waters, to destroy four bridges, bring near-panic to scores of residents living along the waterway, and resulting in the calling of fire fighters from over a wide area.
Two of the bridges destroyed were abandoned wooden structures near the point of ignition. Another bridge was burned two blocks north of Prater street, and the other at Roy street where the spread of flames down the running stream was finally halted.
The fire was brought under control after two hours of strenuous activities on the part of fire departments from Melrose Park, Elmhurst. Maywood, Franklin Park, Hillside and Bellwood, which joined the North Lake firemen in the struggle. Also answering the emergency call was a fire fighting team from O’Hare International Airport. Army men were sent in to augment extra police who were called upon to re-route and handle traffic in major routes in a square mile area. Hundreds of motorists left their cars to watch as black smoke rolled into the sky.
A heavy downpour of rain about 3:00 P.M. aided fire fighters in bringing the blaze under control.
No firemen were reported injured in the battle, but a lineman of the Public Service Company of Northern Illinois was electrocuted while installing a street lighting circuit some five blocks away from the trouble. Inhalator crews worked without success over him for more than two hours.