Archive ID: 1992-045-122

Standard Oil fire

Date Created: 1955-09

Donor: Carl J. Horecky

Media Type: Photograph


Aerial photograph of oil refinery fire at Standard Oil’s Whiting, Indiana complex taken on August 27, 1955. The Standard Oil refinery is located about 3 miles away from Southeast Chicago and many area residents worked at the refinery. Firefighters from Chicago as well as Whiting, Hammond, and East Chicago, Indiana all helped fight the blaze. The 8-day fire, started by a processing tower explosion, would consume at least 45 acres of storage tanks and damage nearby homes and businesses. Two people were killed, another 40 injured, and 1,500 evacuated. The hundreds of firefighters who fought the blaze decided they could only contain the fire rather than extinguish it. By the time the fire was finally over on September 4, 1955, it had caused 30 million dollars worth of damage. This included fifty-nine tanks that were completely destroyed, along with 1 1/4 million barrels of crude and refined products. There was also damage to civilian homes and refinery structures. It would take a year before the plant was operating at full capacity again. Although this fire did not occur in Southeast Chicago, the explosion was felt on the Southeast Side, and huge clouds of smoke were visible from the neighborhoods.

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Disasters   Historic Events   1950-1979   Other/Unknown   Other/Unknown   Photograph   1992-045   Fires   Standard Oil