Heidelberg, PA Refining Company Fire, Dec 1928

TWO ARE KILLED, HALF MILLION IS OIL FIRE DAMAGE.

TWO FIREMEN ON WAY TO HEIDELBERG PLANT FIRE NEAR PITTSBURGH KILLED IN CRASH.

TWO FIRES BREAK OUT IN REFINERY.

BLAZE BELIEVED UNDER CONTROL BREAKS OUT ANEW AND EXPLOSIONS THREATEN MANY.

Pittsburgh, Dec. 26. -- Two firemen lost their lives, nine others were injured and damage estimated at $500,000 was done when fire broke out twice at the Heidelberg plant of the Carnegie Refining Company near here. The flames were brought under control today after first sweeping through the plant yesterday morning and again breaking out last night.
The dead, both members of a fire truck of the Stowe Township volunteer fire department which crashed enroute to the fire, were ADOLPH SONNETT, 30, and JOSEPH DE PETRO, 45, both of Stowe Township. Eight other members of the engine company No. 2 were injured while one fireman was injured in battling the blaze.
Twelve nearby boroughs sent fire companies to battle the spectacular blaze, and an army of more than 150 volunteers fought the better part of twenty-four hours to bring the fire under control and prevent its spread over the entire 20 acre plant of the company.

Explosions Occur.
The fire first broke out about 9 a.m. yesterday. Accompanied by periodic explosions, it did $200,000 damage before being brought under control last night. After it was thought the flames were subdued, shortly before midnight a smouldering spark ignited a pool of gasoline, there was a flash of flames, and the fire again roared its way through the plant, menacing the homes of nearby Heidelberg residents.
As the flames spread to the small tanks in the distilling and refining departments, calls were sent for volunteers from Crafton, Ingram, Glendale, Kirwin Heights, Bridgeville, Stowe Township, Bower Hill, Carnegie, East Carnegie, Dormont, Mt. Lebanon and Castle Shannon, as well as for two Pittsburgh fire companies.

Fire Truck Plunges.
The two men killed, together with their companions, were riding on a combination pumper and hose truck when the machine leaped from the WIndcap road on a curve about a half mile from Ingram and plunged down a gully. Besides the two fatally injured, JOHN CAPUTO, 44, driver; ATTELA BAPTISTO, 22; MICHAEL and NICHOLAS DE ANGELIS, brothers, and CARL MOYER were in serious condition at Ohio Valley hospital, while PATRICK TRAUZZANIO, 22, ROMEO LEE, 23 and GUSTAVE GALANDO, 20, were taken to their homes. Heavy fog which blanketed the road was blamed for the crash.

Tanks Threatened.
When the fire reached its peak early today, the flames leaped high into the air from the ruins of one large steel and brick building, threatening 5,000 barrels each of wax oil and 8 tanks of 1,000 barrels capacity containing kerosene. Farther from the flames were large tanks of 10,000 and 20,000 barrel capacity, containing refined gasoline.
As a series of explosions rocked the ruins, the lives of hundreds of spectators who lined the nearby hills were endangered, and authorities had difficulty in keeping the curious multitudes back of the fire lines. The plant is on the site of the old Etna Chemical plant, where a serious explosion occurred during the war. The cause of the fire and blasts could not immediately be determined.

Volunteer Injured.
SAM SCOTT, 40, of Glendale, member of the Glendale volunteer fire department, sustained internal injuries in battling the blaze when he was crushed against the side of a flaming building by a tightly stretched hose. He was taken to Presbyterian Hospital. Several others were treated at the scene for minor burns and bruises.
County Fire Marshall THOMAS PFARR said that the damage was in the neighborhood of $500,000, while ROBERT BURR, Refining Company superintendent said the loss would range from $450,000 to $500,000. Loss was fully covered by insurance and the plant will be reconstructed as soon as possible, company officials said.

New Castle News Pennsylvania 1928-12-26