Long Beach, CA Oil Refinery Fire, May 1958
DEVASTATING OIL REFINERY BLAZE RAGES THROUGH SIGNAL HILL; TWO WORKMEN KILLED.
Long Beach, Calif. (AP) -- Firemen battled today to prevent a devastating oil refinery blaze from setting off an 860,000-gallon tank of poisonous tetraethyl lead.
Flames shot high over Signal Hill all night as they raged through the $25,000,000 Hancock Oil Company refinery.
Two workmen were killed -- trapped in rivers of burning oil and gasoline.
Firemen contained the flames within the refinery grounds during the night, but a big remaining peril was the tetraethyl lead tank.
"If that tank bursts we'll have to evacuate the entire area downwind," said Fire Chief Noel Manchester. "We would be in real trouble."
Torrents of blazing oil from a ruptured tank set off a series of earth-shaking explosions, Thursday afternoon.
Workers sprinted for their lives as 14 big tanks blew up one by one.
Four hundred patients were evacuated in ambulances from Long Beach General Hospital and Long Beach Air Force Base was evacuated.
The blaze burned without letup through the night. A fire battalion chief said it would probably burn all today "until all the oil is gone."
The first blast came at 2:06 p.m. The next seconds meant life or death to many of the 125 men in the plant.
JAMES W. EDWARDS, 66, a foreman who would have retired in seven days, stopped to throw a valve to cut off the flow of oil. At the last second he ran. Near safety, he tired and slowed. Flames
WOODWARD LANGFORD, 45, tried to save his car, and died.
"He had his hand on the door when the car's gas tank blew up," said a co-worker. "The explosion tore off the door and it hit him, knocking him down into the burning oil. He got up and ran. But he fell down again."
Three men were injured in the explosion and in fighting the fire.
The fire started when a tank blew up while workers
were steam-cleaning it, but the cause of the blast wasn't immediately determined.
The 10-acre plant was heavily damaged. The flames left equipment warped and twisted in a landscape that resembled the scene of a bombing
The Lethbridge Hereald Alberta 1958-05-23