Today in History: Tampico Oil Field Fire, 1921

Blog Post created by jrodowicz Employee on Jul 19, 2017

Today we look back at an oil field fire that occurred in Tampico, Mexico on July 19, 1921. The fire burned for more than five days before it was finally brought under control. 


Tampico Oil Field Fire, July 1921

Photograph of oil field fire in Tampico, Mexico on July 19, 1921.


From the NFPA Quarterly v.15, no.2, 1921:


The well in the foreground came in on the morning of July 19 flowing more than 40,000 barrels of oil daily, accompanied by considerable gas. While the crew was still working on this well, the well shown at the right of the picture came in, flowing more than 40,000 barrels daily. The oil was carried by the wind to the boilers of the well seen dimly in the background. The boilers of this well had previously been shut off to avoid endangering the first well but the fire under them was probably not entirely extinguished. The oil was ignited and before the crew could close the valve the heat became so intense that the men were compelled to withdraw. The crew of the well in the foreground managed to get their tools out and were closing the valve when this well caught from the flames and the heat of the other. As a result of the heat from the two wells various bunkhouses and six rigs were destroyed. The flames reached a height of 500 to 600 feet. On Sunday, July twenty-fourth, efforts to put out the fire were successful. The valves were luckily uninjured by the intense fire and two men with heads and bodies protected by heavy clothing and followed by two others spraying water from a hose on them succeeded in reaching the valve stems of both wells and closed them.



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