Detroit, MI refinery fire, Dec 1949

Detroit Refinery Fire Kills One

Detroit, Dec. 30. - (UP) - An explosion and a five-alarm fire ripped through a gasoline refining plant Friday night, killing one worker and injuring at least six others.

Officials of the Aurora Gasoline company identified the dead man as Herbert Wright, 27, whose charred body was pulled from the flames.

Doctors at Lynn clinic said several of the injured were burned so severely they might die.

One of the greatest groups of firefighters in Detroit history managed to bring the flames, which shot 200 feet into the air, under control within three hours.

Playing streams of foam on the blaze, more than 200 firemen were hampered by a pall of smoke which overcast Detroit's southwest side and was visible 10 miles away.

Company officials said "about 100" normally were working at the 30-acre plant site, honeycombed with small sheds and tubular pipes used in extracting gasoline from crude oil.

All the injured and Wright were working near a pipe which ruptured and touched off the gas blast.

Ted Olesko, a foreman, said "we were working on a cold line when she blew. There were two explosions and the whole thing was burning. One of the other boys and I threw a blanket around another guy to put out the fire and got out of there."

The Billings Gazette, Billings, MT 31 Dec 1949