Tank Farm Fire at Bridgeport IL on 10/9/1961
3 OTHERS BURNED AT BRIDGEPORT Bridgeport Moyor One Of Dead In Fire At Ohio Oil Company Tank Farm. his at a BRIDGEPORT. 111. CAP) - Oil leaking from a 35,000 barrel tank burst mto flame Monday night aai four men died in the fire. Three other men were burned critically. One of the dead was Bridgeport's Bridgeport's mayor. Firemen from Bridgeport and several a e a rby communities brought the flames under control before ifaey could spread to some 14 other large tanks, hi the Ohio Oil Co, pumping station. Dead are James Neely, 56, mayor of tins southeastern Illinois Illinois ojmmunity of 2,300; Lea Aslsren, 59, and Muril Magec, 58, both of Bridgeport, and Walter Burton, 53, of Mill Shoals, 111. In critical condition at nearby iLawrenceviUe Hospital was Rue- Peneton, 57, of Bridgeport. Listed in serious condition were, Robert Ernst, 39, and Richard Poppe, 34,; iboth of Bridgeport. The injured [suffered bums on tbeh: Itaibs and bodies. , Authorities said the 35,000 barrel tank bad sprung a leak and oil flowed into a low area around the 40Kfoot hi^ cylindrical tanks. The area aromid the tank was walled off by a 10-foot high lirt dike [which contained the leaking oiL The oE company cadled out a crew of 12 early in the evening to repair the leak. Neely, a gauger for the company, was a member [of the ^repair:-crew. — Witnesses told police an expb* sion and flames empted ahout 9:50 p.ni. Most of the crew bolted through the shallow lake of oil scrambled tip the^e and dropped to safe^ on the othex side. Police said apparently Ncely, [iBiuiton, A^cren and Magee wera the last to leave the side of 'tha tank, got trapped in fast-spreading, fast-spreading, oil fed flames and couldn't imake it over the dike. Five authorities said the explo* sion and fire wrecked the tmk but didn't damage other totdidings on the 200 -acr8 pumpmg station on the eastern outsldrts ol Bridge^ iport.' Witnesses said Poppe was no! mjured in the blast but was burned when he returned to help [Peneton across the dike. Officials said today they had not determhied the cause of the fire. But tiiere was speculation the blaze had originated near a.small tractor being used by the crew to dig a trench along a pipeline leading leading to the tank.