Train-Truck Collision Endangers Newark Commuters
—Newark News photo
A TANK-TRAILER containing 5,500 gallons of mineral spirits, and inadvertently parked too close to the tracks of the Erie Lackawanna Railroad, was struck by a commuter train and knocked 50 feet into the wall of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass paint plant in Newark, N. J., on the morning of January 8. The impact of the crash ruptured the tank and created a lake of fire that not only threatened the plant but momentarily enveloped two of the cars on the train which contained some 145 passengers. Fortunately, the engineer realized the danger and kept his train moving, discharging his passengers at the next station, with only two of them requiring treatment for minor injuries.
The first alarm was transmitted from Box 3731 on the plant property at 8:11 a.m. by Charles Burnett, a plant safety engineer. Battalion Chief Andrew Donohue, assigned on the first alarm, reported a working fire while still en route and sent in the second alarm at 8:16 a.m. A third alarm was transmitted at 8:21 a.m.
The second alarm brought Chief of Department Joseph Redden and Fire Director John P. Caulfield to the scene, where they found a raging fire that was seriously threatening the giant paint plant. The plant is located along the Passaic River and on the west side of McCarter Highway, a main north-south thoroughfare which was clogged with traffic and had to be cleared by police. Battalion Chief Donohue supervised operations on the north side at the foot of Chester Avenue, while the writer proceeded to the south side and took command of units operating from that point. Meanwhile, third-alarm units were directed by radio to approach the fire from the south and play lines from the northbound lane of the highway onto the fire below them.
Master streams were put into operation to prevent extension of the fire to the paint plant. Two foam generators were set up on the north and west sides of the fire to attack the flammable liquid flames raging in the ruptured tank, and portable mechanical foam pipes were used for the same purpose. Engine 6 used the two highpressure foam guns of its pumper on the fire with good effect. Burning oil created running ground fires which were difficult to extinguish and resulted in minor burns to three fire fighters. Ten cans of foam powder, 36 gallons of liquid foam and 21 hand lines were used on the blaze which was brought under control in one hour.