Hunter's Point, Long Island, NY Fire Jul 1872
An Immense Conflagration at Hunter's Point.
Large Oil-Works and a Guano Factory Destroyed.
Loss Over One Million and a Half of Dollars---Damage to Docks and Bulkhead.
Noted as it has been for its extensive fires, in consequence of the fact that it is the great depot and shipping point for oil, Hunter's Point has never experienced so devastating a visitation from the devouring element as that which yesterday and last night spread its gloomy pall over the adjoining cities, the rivers and the Bay, causing thousands to imagine that a terrible tempest was about to burst upon us. And, yet, with the vast destruction of property, and the detectably villainous manner in which the volunteer Fire Department of Long Island City acted, there is great reason to be thankful that not one life was lost nor a single person injured.
Extending from Ninth to Eleventh streets, Hunter's Point, and fronting immediately upon East River, a distance of 600 feet, is located the storage yard of the Standard Oil Works. The yard has a large member of oil-tanks in it, but no refinery. At the foot of Eleventh street is a basin or canal, running a short distance up into the town. Across the street, to the east, is located Pratt's Astral Oil Works, and on the opposite side of Ninth-street, to the south, were located Coe's Guano Works. Across the canal, to the north, are located the works of the New York Oil Company. Several other oil companies are located in the immediate neighborhood, but as they escaped damage they need not be enumerated. The Daylight Oil Company had a large gang of men at work moving their stock, but they were entirely free from danger.
At 10 A. M. the Superintendent of the Standard Oil-yard noticed smoke issuing from the outside one of two canal-boats lying in the basin. As strict orders had been issued to the men not to allow fire in any form to be on board the vessels or in the yard, he immediately blow his whistle as a sign of danger, and within one minute upward of 100 workmen rushed to the point indicated by him. Two women and a child were on the inside boat, and they were carried on shore with the greatest possible expedition and taken to a place of safety. A man at the same time issued from the canal-boat that was on fire, and as rapidly as possible endeavors were made to cast off the boats and shove them into the river by means of long pike-poles. But, the scene which ensued made them glad to escape with their lives. As the flash of the powder follows the application of the spark, so did the shooting heavenward of a vast column of flame and smoke follow the ignition and explosion of the barrels of refined oil that were on board. There were 18,000 barrels of the same inflammable material stored in the yard, and with incredible rapidity the flames spread from tier to tier, the barrels bursting with a loud noise, until a vast column of flame, buried in a douse column of jet black smoke showed itself lucidity mounting upward and upward, until it spread our like a pall over the country round about for miles. The wind blowing toward the south protected the works on the north side of the basin, and a cool current of air passed down the east side of the Standard premises and protected Pratt's work from damage by fire, but did not save them from damage by water and the axes of a volunteer Fire Department. Their loss, however, will be comparatively small.
There was an evident desire on the part of the men in the yard to withhold any information in relation to the origin of the fire, but it was stated last night upon authority deemed sufficient, that it arose upon authority deemed sufficient, that it arose from this cause. In the canal-boat where the fire originated was a stable where the horses were kept during the time the hosts were in tow. The workmen who was seen emerging from the boat when the smoke was discovered, had hit his pipe and thrown the burning match on the floor. The natural result followed. When he was leaving the boat the foreman of the yard called to him and asked him what fire was coming from the cabin of the [illegible] boat, and not from the one he had just left. Another minute showed where the fire really was but too plainly.
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