The Standard Oil refinery at Linden in New Jersey was rocked by a massive explosion and engulfed in fire late on Saturday evening (5 December).
The Standard Oil refinery at Linden in New Jersey was rocked by a massive explosion and engulfed in fire late on Saturday evening (5 December). Millions of dollars worth of damage was caused to the plant, 42 people were injured, and buildings were shaken 40 miles away. Shops with broken windows were looted.
The explosion occurred shortly after 11 p.m. and was preceded by an anonymous telephone call to the authorities. More than 1,000 firefighters from four nearby towns struggled for over four hours before they began to get the fire under control. At the height of the blaze, flames leapt nearly 1,000 feet into the night sky lighting up the district for miles around. Burning debris from the initial and subsequent explosions fell over a wide area. The refinery was built on a three-square-miles site, and was one of the biggest in the North-East United States.
Firemen and police searching the debris on Sunday (6 December) for vital clues as to the cause of the main explosion faced an almost impossible task, as much of what might have been evidence is thought to have been blown clear of the site. Most of the 200 workers at the plant on Sunday evening were protected from serious injury by their blast-proof building.
The Chief of Police and Mayor in Linden held a Press conference after the fire, during which a tape-recording of the anonymous telephone sabotage threat was played to reporters but the possibility of equipment malfunction has not been over-ruled. A police spokesman said that a 21-year-old man had been the only arrest following the fine, and that was on a charge of trespassing. Shop windows in Linden were blown-in or extensively damaged during the main blast and a wave of looting followed. One witness told a reporter that he had seen looters carrying off merchandise which ranged from small articles to colour television sets and other furniture.