10/2/1954@Esso Barge Fire 319 Wisconsin

October 2 1954  Esso Barge Fire

Shortly after 1215 PM on Saturday, October 2, 1954, 10 barges loaded with gasoline, tractor fuel and diesel oil caught fire and exploded at the Esso Standard Oil Barge and Bulk terminal located at 319 Wisconsin Ave. One worker was killed and several other workers were injured.  More than 30 firefighters suffered minor injuries while working at the fire which burned for 4 days.. The fire occurred during an unloading operation. Firemen were hampered by the loss of water supply due to damage to the Hydrant/Water system caused by the explosion. Fire Companies had to lay lines back to Riverside and Wisconsin to aquire water.  Fire fighters managed to prevent damage to the 18 acre tank farm nearby. The fire burned for 4 days and was not fully extinguished until Tuesday October 7th. It was the worst riverfront fire in the city’s history, with damages reaching near $1,750,000. This fire was one of the main reasons the Multi Master was invented.    Prior to 1954  the US Corps of Army Engineers Fire Boat “ Elm “ would have responded , but it had been sent  to  another Corps base a year earlier.

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