Sewer Fire Causes $225,000 Damage
Gasoline which was dumped from an oil company plant in San Francisco, and which flowed into a channel sewer, caused a fire which resulted in property damage of $225,000, and gave the firemen a very busy few hours. A warrant has been issued against the oil company for emptying gasoline into the sewer and for maintaining a sump without a city permit.
An employee at the plant of the Richfield Oil Company carelessly left open a valve in a gasoline storage tank, and permitted ten thousand gallons of gasoline to pour onto the ground, down a sump, and into a sewer which emptied into the channel at Seventh Street. The channel passed under the five track wooden trestle of the Southern Pacific Railroad.
As two locomotives passed over the trestle, vapors from the gasoline were ignited by the trains’ fire boxes.
With the aid of air operated devices of the railroad, firemen succeeded in cutting through two feet of rock ballast and into the wooden trestle, so that the fire under the trestle could be reached. Foremen wore masks but in spite of this protection, seven were badly burned by fumes from the creosoted timbers.
After the fire was extinguished, workmen of the Southern Pacific removed all the timber from the trestle over a distance of 210 feet, and a three-track width. The entire channel around the wooden sewer was filled in. Wooden caps and stringers were renewed so that the tracks would not bear down directly on the sewer.
Frank Kelly, Fire Marshal, had two warrants issued against the oil company, charging it with violating two city ordinances—for maintaining a sump which dumps into a city sewer, and the other for dumping oil or gasoline into sewers. In addition, the oil company will be sued civilly for the larger part of the $225,000 fire loss.