Norfolk, VA Explosion, Jun 1931

3,000,000 Damage Caused In Norfolk By Conflagration

Fire Following Explosion on Oil Barge Sweeps Seven Blocks

Hotel Is Destroyed

Victoria, 200-Room Structure, Razed

Many Persons Hurt

Sailors and Marines Help in Fighting Flames

Norfolk, Va., June 8 (AP) – Norfolk spent last night fighting a three-million-dollar waterfront fire.

Started by an explosion on an oil barge at the Buxton line piers, the fire rode a strong wind along 200 feet of wharves, destroyed a hotel, swept through the wholesale district and leaped across Main street to threaten the retail business center.

The explosion, the cause of which was sought by firemen today, occurred late yesterday, and it was after midnight before the combined fire fighting forces of the entire Hampton roads area, aided by 1,300 sailors and marines, brought the fire under control. A driving rain that began just before midnight checked the spread of the flames.

The Victoria hotel, a 200-room structure, was destroyed. Miss Carrie AMBROSE, switchboard operator, remained at her post until all guests and employees had escaped.

The American Peanut corporation plant was burned at an estimated loss of one million dollars. Seven city blocks were swept.

During the night 30 persons, including firemen, reported to hospitals for treatment and 16 of them has injuries sufficiently serious to cause them to be kept as patients. A large number of others received treatment at ambulances stationed near the fire zone.
A force of 1,300 bluejackets and marines from battleships Arizona and Utah and from the naval base was called out to maintain order.

Equipment and firemen from Newport News, Pottsmouth, South Norfolk, Suffolk, the naval base and Norfolk naval yards, were called to the assistance of Norfolk fire fighters.

In addition to the business houses burned the T. J. Hooper, a 200-foot tug belonging to the Eastern Transport company, an unidentified tug and a smaller barge, together with 200 feet of wharf, were damaged.

The Charleston Daily Mail, Charleston, WV 8 Jun 1931