Brooklyn, NY Waterfront Explosion And Fire, Dec 1956
SABOTAGE PROBE IN $15 MILLION BLAZE.
BROOKLYN WATERFRONT FIRE SETS OFF BLAST THAT DESTROYS PIER; NINE DEAD, 400 HURT.
New York - UPI - Federal and local authorities searched for evidence of sabotage today in the flaming wake of a $15 million Brooklyn waterfront explosion which destroyed the city's largest pier, killed at least nine persons and injured some 400 others.
Two seamen were questioned about a mysterious telephone call made before the blast.
Fireboats and hundreds of firemen still fought the blaze this morning more than 12 hours after it broke out on the Luckenbach Steamship Line pier about 3:15 p.m. EST Monday. The fire was officially reported under control at 6:42 p.m. Monday night.
Fire Commissioner Edward F. Cavanaugh, Jr., described the disaster as the "worst fire in the history of New York Harbor." He said he thought the bomb-like explosion was too tremendous to result from even the highly inflammable cargo stored on the pier.
Receive Anonymous Call.
FBI agents, Navy intelligence men, police detectives and fire department officials joined in an all-out "scientific" investigation of the possibility of sabotage.
One important lead was an anonymous telephone call received by the New York Times two hours before the fire. A male voice promised that "something big" would happen on a Brooklyn pier during the afternoon.
Cavanaugh said two crewmen of the steamship Ruth Lake were being questioned regarding the call received.
Fire Marshall Martin Scott, said the caller apparently was one of the crewmen who wanted to report dissatisfaction aboard the drydocked British vessel. He said the call to the Times may have been a "coincidence" with the fire.
Convene Grand Jury.
Other investigators were reported looking into the possibility of a connection between the fire and labor unrest along the Brooklyn waterfront, Dist. Atty. Edward S. Silver said he might convene a grand jury to look into the tragedy.
The explosion was felt as far as 25 miles away at Mineola, N.Y. Its force hurled a 200-pound steel beam six blocks.
Some 20 blocks of the south Brooklyn water front neighborhood were shattered - the streets littered with broken glass and roofs pocked by chunks of molten metal. Christmas tree lights on Brooklyn's Fifth Avenue were smashed by the blast.