Oil Fires on the Hill Historical

Oil Fires on the Hill Historical (HM1WAZ)

Location: Signal Hill, CA 90755 Los Angeles County
Country: United States of America

N 33° 48.016', W 118° 9.896'

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Part of the "Memory Necklace"

—A Series of Historical Panels Located in the Hilltop Loop Trail —

High concentrations of natural gas posed a constant danger to oilmen developing the Signal Hill field in the form of "gassers," "gushers," gas flares and fires. When Shell Oil completed its second well in 1921. It was a "gasser" that blew out and caught fire. The flames shot 125 feet in the air and were visible from 12 miles away on land and from 30 miles out in the sea. The "gasser," which flowed natural gas at an estimated 20 million cubic feet per day, was finally extinguished by using 17 steam boilers over 36 hours. 100 pounds of dynamite snuffed out the flames of the Martin #1, another Shell well, that blew in as a "gasser."

The Black and Drake well near Walnut and Willow (to the left of this view shed) was a huge "gusher." During the month it blew uncontrolled, it spewed a lake of oil about 30 feet in diameter. The "gusher" blew rocks through adjacent homes burying the neighborhood 4 - 5 feet deep.

Gas flares were common enough that many wells did not need any other lighting to operate at night. When conditions like a wintry cold fog trapped it low to the ground, the raw gas became a time bomb. Any spark (cigarette, automobile, etc.) could have explosive effects.

In 1933, a blast of fumes at the Richfield Meander
plant near Lime and 27th, killed eight people and destroyed several nearby homes and derricks. In 1958, a 40-hour oil froth fire burned 27 of 33 acres of the Hancock Oil Co. refinery, killing two and causing $9 million in damage. The small city of Signal Hill probably faced the most difficult fire hazards of any city its size in the state. The city is proud of the memory of its old fire department, which comprised a fire chief and about a dozen men, and developed techniques for fighting oil fires that resulted in a remarkably low rate of fire destruction. (Marker Number 5.)
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, December 16th, 2016 at 1:02pm PST -08:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)11S E 392166 N 3740620
Decimal Degrees33.80026667, -118.16493333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 33° 48.016', W 118° 9.896'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds33° 48' 0.96" N, 118° 9' 53.76" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling West
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 2601-2607 Panorama Dr, Signal Hill CA 90755, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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