Crescent City, CA Tugboat Explosion, Dec 1959


Crescent City, Calif. (AP) -- A tugboat exploded in port Sunday alongside a barge loaded with 800,000 gallons of high octane gasoline. A three-hour battle by fire fighters saved this northern California lumber and fishing port from disaster.
A Coast Guard cutter finally got a grappling hook aboard the sinking tugboat and towed it out to sea.
A deckhand, GORDON McCALLEN, 23, of Seattle, was believed either to have burned to death in the tugboat or to have been blown to his death in the harbor waters.
His post was right over the central force of the first explosion. He remained unaccounted for after the tugboat sank, 150 yards outside the harbor.
One man was hospitalized with face burns.
The downtown district of Crescent City, a town of 2,750, was hastily evacuated.
Flash fires had to be put out aboard the highly volatile barge.
Other small fires broke out on the docks, set by the intense heat of flames from the tugboat 100 yards off shore.
A Coast Guard vessel pumped water on the flaming tugboat while 40 firemen -- the entire Crescent City department and volunteers of the Crescent City Fire Protection District -- fought the shoreside fires.
When the tugboat was brought under tow, it had burned to the water line.
The evacuation order was canceled as the tug was towned away.
The intense heat had melted the radar antenna and all metal parts of the tug's superstructure. Both its engines blew up.

Greeley Daily Tribune Colorado 1959-12-28