Louisville, KY Standard Oil Refinery Explosion, Jun 1890

At the first intimation of the explosion all of the workmen who could do so started to run. Johnnie Cline, however, stumbles and fell, and his clothes caught fire. The men bravely returned to his assistance, but the fire that enveloped him could not be extinguished until he had been frightfully burned.

Three little boys, Danny O’Neil and Andrew and John McDonald, were walking along the railroad track when the explosion occurred. They were slightly to the east of the tank, and the wind blew the blaze directly down upon them. Shrieking with pain, they impulsively jumped backward and into the clear space on the western side of the track. Their clothes were on fire, and they ran down the track with the bright blazes streaming after them. As soon as the bystanders recovered from their horrified shock occasioned by their awful condition they pursued the three boys. Covering them with coats they soon extinguished the flames and laid them under a tree nearby. When an attempt was made to remove O’Neil’s clothes, a great piece of his flesh peeled off his face and body at the slightest touch. He was conscious but never uttered a cry.

The buildings and stock so far as burned will be a total loss. There is no insurance, according to the statement of Edward L. Goodwin, Vice President of the Standard Oil Company. Mr. Goodwin said: “It is almost impossible yet to estimate the loss. We will first have to find our bearings. I should judge now, from present appearances, that the loss on stock and all would be between $30,000 and $40,000.”

The New York Times, New York, NY 1 Jul 1890