World Wide Fire News

World Wide Fire News

Fighting Chaplain Cited

The fire-fighting chaplain of Giessen, France, Norris T. Morton, was recently honored with a citation from the French Army for his services to the fire departments of Europe during the past two years.

Presented in Paris on June 24 by Lt. Col. Maurice Feger, chief of that city’s fire department, the citation was accompanied by an embossed certificate of honorary membership in the Paris Fire Department, an official fire department badge and a silver fireman’s helmet.

In presenting the award, Col. Feger said: “There are no foreigners among firemen. We are all one big family, pledged to work for mankind.” Seventy French Army officers, all of whom are connected with the fire department, were present at the ceremony which took place in “Le Chambre d’Honneur” at Paris Fire Department Headquarters on Place JULES-REYARD.-SOUTHWORTH LANCASTER.

Radar May Have Set Fire

Further evidence on the possibility of radar exploding photographer’s flashlight blubs and thus causing fire is contained in an Army report, issued earlier this year, on a fire in a mail ship on April 27, 1948, that may have been started by such means.

The report covers a fire aboard the S.S. American Producer, which destroyed 156 sacks of mail and damaged 2,431. The ship was en route to Bremerhaven, Germany, from the United States at the time, and the burned cargo was in the hold of the ship.

Army officials at Bremerhaven reported: “Examination of the ashes at the base of the fire revealed broken glass and cans of photo supplies, and it is believed the fire was started by spontaneous combustion (ignition) of materials or possibly the explosion of flash bulbs contained in some parcel in the mail bags. Explosion of the flash bulbs could have been caused by the ship’s radar.”

Although it is said airlines have been instructed to refuse transportation of flash bulbs because of the possibilities of their being “flashed” by radar, the editors of FIRE ENGINEERING have thus far received no official confirmation of this action—nor has there been received any official government report or ruling on such hazards.

Mailbag Blast Injures Five

A Brooklyn, N. Y., postal employe received injuries requiring hospital treatment and three other postoffice workers and a fireman suffered slight burns when a chemical reaction from broken packages started a fire in a sub-station of the postoffice system in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn.

The explosion occurred at 5:00 P.M., when a wooden keg fell off a hand cart. The yellow powder (said to be used for bleaching) that spilled out mixed with hair dye from an 8-ounce bottle which also toppled off, setting up a chemical reaction, and a series of muffled explosions followed. When workers attempted to scoop up the yellow powder with cardboard, a more violent explosion occurred. and the odor of sulphur from the hair dye and dense smoke filled the station.

Firemen were summoned and the resulting fire was quickly extinguished although one fireman received slight burns in the operation. The smoke given off by the chemical reaction caused some discomfort.

Gusher Shuts Down Canadian Oil Field

Fire and explosion hazards from a runaway oil well near Leduc, 16 miles south of Edmonton, Alberta, forced extreme precautions and halted output of the entire oil field.

The well, known as Atlantic Oil Co.’s No. 3, had gushed uncontrolled for over two months; its flow of 10,000 barrels of oil daily was greater than that of the remainder of the field combined, and far in excess of the capacity of the existing equipment to handle it. Earth for two miles around was saturated, while an estimated 75,000,000 cubic feet of gas daily bubbled through thousands of punctures in the ground to create an explosion hazard.

Aircraft were forbidden to fly over the area lest a spark from an engine touch off a major disaster. Workers were required to leave all smoking equipment behind. Sightseers were banned. The valves of all 60 producing wells in the field were shut off as the Alberta government took over the job of safeguarding the field.

The shutdown, which lasted three weeks, was said to have resulted in a possible loss of $5,000,000, although oil company officials deprecated the reports of possible major hazards. They explained that “there was definite danger of both fire and explosions in the immediate vicinity of No. 3 well, but this was confined to an area of about 10 acres around that well, and well within the 40-acre site of the well which is enclosed by a 20-foot dike.”

The first task was to drain away the surface oil, reported at 60,000 barrels, after which efforts were made to bring the gushing well under control. It has not been reported at this writing whether this was accomplished, or the well sealed.

Hot Off the News Ticker

An explosion in a steam air-drying plant at the Hercules Powder Company rocked Kenvil, N. J., on July 26 but no casualties were reported. In June three persons were killed when a scries of explosions wrecked part of the same plant. . . . In Meredosia, Ill., two men were killed and three others critically injured July 29 when 17 sticks of dynamite in a truck exploded. . . . Explosion in an ammunition dump at Epinal, in Eastern France, damaged buildings, broke windows over a wide area and injured several persons. No deaths were reported. The ceiling of the Cit” Hall caved in and part of the prison damaged. Some 60,000 artillery shells, aerial torpedos and bombs, most of them left by the U. S. Army, were in the dump. . . . Fire destroyed part of the big Seng rubber factory at Singapore, with estimated damage of $800,000. Arson was suspected. . . . A call for 3,500 auxiliary police and firemen to prepare the city of Newark, N. J., for “atomic bomb attacks” was issued July 24, 1948 by Public Affairs Director John B. Keenan. . . . When a B-25 light bomber overshot the runway in landing at Newark Airport, Newark, N. J., it crashed and burned. Maj. Gen. Robert M. Webster, Commanding General, First Air Force, and three other occupants of the plane were able to escape the wreck. . . . Inspectors probed the explosion in the King’s coal mine, Princeton, Ind., which claimed the death of thirteen. The disaster followed a blast and fire of last November which closed the mine for more than two months. . . . Anonymous phone calls to the New York police that a time bomb had been placed aboard the S.S. Queen Elizabeth resulted in a fruitless search by the crew under guidance of the Police Department, with a New York Fire Department engine company standing by. . . . At Port Deposit, Md., an Air Force reconnaissance plane crashed into a general store and burned, Aug. 1. The pilot parachuted to safety. . . . The Civil Aeronautics Board conducted extensive investigations into the fire that destroyed two hangars of the Rausch Flying Service and Safair Flying School and fifty-six planes at the Teterboro Air Terminal, N. J., July 10th, with loss estimated at $500,000. . . . Two Air Force planes collided and crashed at 3,000 feet near San Antonio, Tex., Aug. 6, killing two flight instructors and two student pilots. One plane narrowly missed a farm house. . . . Vatican City was shaken, and thrown into considerable uproar, Aug. 3., by the detonation, of a bomb which was planted in a collonade in front of St. Peter’s Basilica. Damage was trifling and there were no casualties.

. . . A $10,000 suit against the LaSalle Hotel, Chicago, Ill., was settled for $1,000 by the estate of one of sixtv-one victims of the June 5, 1946, hotel fire.

. . . U. S. Air Force officials announced, Aug. 7, that two Americans, eleven Filipinos and fifty natives were killed the day before at Ie Shima in the explosion of a landing craft which was loading ammunition for transfer to Okinawa. . . . When about 140,000 rounds of three-inch artillery shells exploded on the night of Aug. 6 in a chain of blasts, the Pueblo Ordnance Depot, near Pueblo, Colo., got a seven-hour shaking up. There were no reported casualties. Fifth Army headquarters said a fire broke out in the ammunition dump during a violent storm.

. . . In Shanghai on Aug. 8 fifty-one workers were reported killed and at least forty others injured in a shirt factory fire started by lightning. . . . A fire, described by the Vatican office as “another good scare,” Troke out at a Vatican gasoline distribution system Aug. 7. It was extinguished before it could spread to underground stores. This was the second “incident” at the Vatican since Pope Pius left for his summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo. … A power breakdown at the Ciaymont plant of General Chemical Division of the Allied Chemical & Dye Corporation the night of Aug. 2 loosed sulphur dioxide fumes over a wide area. Prolonged coughing and smarting eyes brought nearby residents discomfort but the fumes were reported harmless. The same area was shaken twenty-four hours before by an explosion in another of the company’s plants. . . . A thirteen-year-old boy was killed and his brother critically injured at Port Angeles,Wash., when a log they’ were sawing up for firewood on an abandoned artillery range exploded. The boys’ saw apparently bit into a live shell imbedded in the log.

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