Bayonne, NJ Oil Company Fire, July 1900

The Standard Oil Fire postcard



Bayonne, N. J., July 6. -- Naphtha tank No. 7 of Standard Oil Company's plant exploded shortly after 6 o'clock. The force of the explosion smashed windows on the hook, and at least one persons was killed and several injured. CHARLES KING, an electrician, was the one killed. JOHN WASTO and OWEN DRUMMOND, watchmen, were overcome by fumes and smoke. FRED MAUER was cut by flying glass. They all lived in Bayonne. The fire was started about 1 o'clock by a bolt of lightning, which fell during a terrific thunder and rain storm. It struck squarely in the immense yard of the Standard Oil company, which covers 600 acres of ground.
Within fifty yards of the exploded tank was the Bayview hotel, used as a lodging house by half a hundred Hungarians and Poles employed at the works. The thunder storm had already awakened them, and when the explosion came they rushed pell mell out of the rear of the building, chased by the streams of burning oil which flowed over and rapidly consumed the hotel.
The oil from the exploded tanks swept down the hill on which the works are located. Explosions followed like the crash of artillery as tank after tank was ignited by the fiery flood. Down to the water's edge it went, spreading the circle of fire.
Nothing could stay its progress. Even the water was no obstacle, and from the burning piers, which a little while before had been crowded with shipping, it flowed over into the Kill Von Kull and floated in snaky wisps of flame out into the bay.
Meanwhile the Standard Oil tugs ran into the docks and dragged out fifty vessels which were lying at the company's piers. Then the tugs formed a cordon a little way out from the docks and fought the flames from that side. Great booms of logs were thrown out into the semi-circle to prevent the burning liquid from flowing unrestrained over the water and carrying destruction to shipping down the bay.
Inside the yards the Bayonne fire department made an ineffectual fight against the burning fluid. Water was of no avail, and the fire had to be fought by strategy. Trenches were dug to divert the streams of burning oil from attacking property outside of the oil yards. The damage will amount to over a million.

The Daily Gazette Janesville Wisconsin 1900-07-06