Linden, NJ Oil Fire, Jul 1921


Flames From Linden, N. J., Rush Across Sound and Threaten Staten Island.


Five Acres of Warner-Quinlan Grounds a Seething Mass as 34 Tanks Explode.


Idle Shipping Board Vessels at Chelsea Get Up Steam for Flight to Sea as Fire Spreads.

Fire, stating with an explosion in an overheated still at 1:54 o'clock yesterday afternoon had done $1,000,000 damage to the Warner-Quinlan asphalt plant in Linden, N. J., by last midnight. At that hour with five acres of meadow land swimming in burning oil and asphalt which was tumbling into Staten Island Sound, the plant was doomed and the City of New York and the United States Shipping Board were exerting heroic efforts to prevent the flaming sea from spreading to forty of the board's vessels moored at Chelsea, Staten Island, across the Sound.

At 2:15 o'clock this morning a series of explosions among gasoline tanks which for a time had withstood the onslaught of the ever hotter blaze hurled billows of flaming gasoline into the Rahway river, and the danger of the fire sweeping across to the big plant of the Grasselli Chemical Company on the opposite shore was heightened. At the same time the costly new plant of the Sinclair Consolidated Oil Company adjoining the Warner-Quinlan plant, which for a time had seemed safe, again was endangered.

Menace Nearer Staten Island.

The renewed explosions following a great blast at midnight brought the menace even nearer to Staten Island. Flaming embers were showering out of the dense black clouds that had turned and was flooding in so that if the burning oil should get well started again there would be no stopping it, and the wind had stiffened and was blowing straight across the Sound.

It was just at that hour that a reporter for THE NEW YORK TIMES, telephoning from Chelsea a bulletin of the latest developments, was obliged to disconnect after a rapid explanation that the telephone line was needed at once to commuincte[sic] with the Fire Department.

When communication was re-established at 3:35 this morning the reporter explained that women had become so nearly hysterical with fright they had made renewed appeals for fire apparatus to be deployed along the waterfront in the event it should be needed. Deputy Chief William J. Beggin, however, had assumed personal command of the situation, taking his station on the fireboat William J. Gaynor, and had given orders that no engines were to leave their houses until he gave the word unless actual flames were discovered.

At the hour mentioned, the situation had not changed materially, though the fire, sweeping further back toward the Rabway River section of the plant and consuming everything in its progress, seemed to hold out less direct threat for the Staten Island shore.

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