Oil Plant Fire at Birmingham

Oil Plant Fire at Birmingham

It took Chief S. A. Middleton, of Birmingham, Ala., and his men eight hours to control a fire which occurred in the property of the Texas Oil Company. When the department arrived it appeared a hopeless task, but Chief Middleton ordered his men to get at work and eight hours later was rewarded with the satisfaction of having accomplished his purpose. The property occupied a space 200 by 260 feet and the building was one story in height and built four years ago. It was constructed of corrugated iron with wood frame, having wooden partition walls. The fire started in the pump room from an explosion of gasoline. One of the employees discovered it at 5:10 p. m., and sent in an alarm. One employee was badly burned by the explosion. Although Chief Middleton had only 25 men on hand, he made good use of the apparatus which included one American-La France triple combination engine, two Webb triple combinations and one Seagrave triple engine. Only four hydrants were available, spaced about 800 feet apart. The pressure was sufficient to furnish three hydrant streams which added to the four engine streams made a total of seven streams at one time. While the property at risk totalled nearly $75,000, the loss was but half that amount. The contents consisted of gasoline, kerosene and oils. A large amount of oil and gasoline broke loose and found its way to a nearby creek. It flowed along the surface of the water while burning and communicated fire to a packing house, located beyond the creek, and also set fire to a bridge over the creek. So hot was the fire that it warped the steel truss in the bridge, the flames mounting to 30 feet in height. It was only by quick action and good judgment that Chief Middleton was able to save the packing house.

Ruins of Fall River, Mass., Fire, Showing Portions of Brick Walls Standing.

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