Sites: GlobalSpec.com | GlobalSpec Electronics | CR4 | Electronics360
Login | Register
The Engineer's Place for News and Discussion®


"On This Day" In Engineering History

Tune in to find out about significant engineering events that took place "on this day".

Previous in Blog: October 19, 1943 - Fighting More Than Tuberculosis   Next in Blog: October 21, 1824: Patenting Portland Cement
Close

Comments Format:






Close

Subscribe to Discussion:

CR4 allows you to "subscribe" to a discussion
so that you can be notified of new comments to
the discussion via email.

Close

Rating Vote:







9 comments

October 20, 1944 - LNG Explosion Rocks Cleveland

Posted October 20, 2006 7:00 AM by Steve Melito

On this day in engineering history, a natural gas explosion killed 225 people and destroyed one square mile of Cleveland, Ohio. The disaster caused utilities to favor underground storage tanks and communities to question the safety of aboveground storage systems.

On the afternoon of October 20, 1944, vapors began to escape through a faulty seam on the side of Storage Tank No. 4, an aboveground vessel that held liquified natural gas (LNG) for the East Ohio Gas Company. The steel structure contained an extremely low amount of nickel, causing the metal to become brittle when exposed to the extreme cold of LNG.

Soon, winds from Lake Erie pushed the gas vapor into a mixed-use section of the city. Through catch basins in the street gutters, the natural gas descended into the sewer lines and mixed with combustible sewer gas. The resulting explosion launched manhole covers skyward as plumes of fire erupted from beneath the city. One manhole cover was found several miles away in the Glenville section of Cleveland.

The explosion of a second LNG tank trapped residents who had returned to their homes after the din of the first blast subsided. Survivors told newspaper reporters that the flames which traveled through sewers and up drains engulfed buildings in a matter of seconds.

According to a U.S. Bureau of Mines report, the Cleveland disaster destroyed 79 homes, 2 factories, 217 cars, and 7 trailers. Nearly 700 people were left homeless and over 130 were injured. The death toll reached 225, but could have been higher if the accident had occurred later in the day, after students and workers had returned home. Property damage estimates ranged between $7 million to $15 million.

The nation's first commercial LNG facility, the tank farm on Cleveland's East 61st Street, was completely destroyed.

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Anonymous Poster
#1

Re: October 20, 1944 - LNG Explosion Rocks Cleveland

10/22/2006 5:45 PM

A number of years ago in what I think is Berlin, NY near Troy, a Liquid Propane Truck blew up in an accident sending fire throughout the neighborhood and burning a number of homes down... is this the same product that composes LNG?

vin

Reply
Guru
United States - Member - New Member Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member Popular Science - Weaponology - Organizer Hobbies - Target Shooting - New Member Engineering Fields - Nuclear Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 3500
Good Answers: 32
#2
In reply to #1

Re: October 20, 1944 - LNG Explosion Rocks Cleveland

10/23/2006 8:51 AM

Thanks for passing that along. I hadn't heard about that incident, but found the following on-line, from Vanderbilt University:

"On July 25, 1962 in Berlin, NY, an MC 330 bulk transport ruptured releasing about 6,900 gallons of liquid propane. Ignition occurred. Ten persons were killed, and 17 others were injured. Property damage included total destruction of 18 buildings and 11 vehicles."

I'm not an LNG expert, but I'll do my best to answer your question. Liquid propane gas (LPG) and liquid natural gas (LNG) are very different. LPG is primarily propane. LNG is mostly methane, with low concentrations of other hydrocarbons and water. In terms of storage, LPG requires pressure alone (think of the tank that attaches to a barbeque grill). LNG also requires pressure, but must be stored at extremely low temperatures. The California Energy Commission has some good information about LNG, if you're interested.

Reply
Anonymous Poster
#3
In reply to #2

Re: October 20, 1944 - LNG Explosion Rocks Cleveland

10/23/2006 9:56 PM

Following this thread, if you enter BLEVE on Google you can find some very scary stories and images about fire/explosion and LNG, LPG etc.

Reply
Anonymous Poster
#4
In reply to #1

Re: October 20, 1944 - LNG Explosion Rocks Cleveland

12/18/2006 3:54 PM

just stumbled upon this, it happened years before I was born, but we moved to berlin and heard the stories, it happened on a sharp turn 1 house away from the place we moved into, the turn was on a hill that went into town, from what I heard the fireball went right down through the town

Reply
Anonymous Poster
#5

Re: October 20, 1944 - LNG Explosion Rocks Cleveland

03/03/2007 4:50 PM

i was born and raised in berlin new yourk and was almost 9 years old when the propane explosion of july 25, 1962 occured. my home was 3 houses north of the catholic church on north main street from the last one that burned. it jsut happened that it was a wednesday evening and we had jsut left to go to hoosick falls grocery shoppings. if it had been any other night, i would have been a victim of the explosion also as me and my friends used to play in the church parking lot where the trucks tank landed and blew. i created a scrap book on the stories and photos of the explosion and donated it to the town library and the last i heard the town of berlin historical society has it now and it was on display at the 30 year anniversary of teh explosion. anyone who would like more information, feel free to email me at r0ychesva@aol.com ...... Roy Rathbun

Reply
Guru
United States - Member - New Member Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member Popular Science - Weaponology - Organizer Hobbies - Target Shooting - New Member Engineering Fields - Nuclear Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 3500
Good Answers: 32
#6
In reply to #5

Re: October 20, 1944 - LNG Explosion Rocks Cleveland

03/05/2007 8:26 AM

Thanks, Mr. Rathbun. I'll contact you at the email address you've provided. This year marks the 45th anniversary of the event you've described, and I think that a story on CR4 is in order.

Reply
Anonymous Poster
#7

Re: October 20, 1944 - LNG Explosion Rocks Cleveland

04/03/2007 9:41 AM

Thanks for this entry. I am the great niece of one of the men who perished in the fire. I am trying to find pictures of the disaster both before and after. Can anyone help? Also any factual articles about the fire.

Vicki

Reply
Guru
United States - Member - New Member Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member Popular Science - Weaponology - Organizer Hobbies - Target Shooting - New Member Engineering Fields - Nuclear Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 3500
Good Answers: 32
#8
In reply to #7

Re: October 20, 1944 - LNG Explosion Rocks Cleveland

04/03/2007 10:10 AM

Hi Vicki,

The Ohio History Central Encylopedia provides a concise description of the disaster, and the Cleveland Public Library has some pictures from after the fire.

I hope you'll register with CR4. By doing so, you can be automatically notified whenever someone responds to your comment.

Moose

Reply
Anonymous Poster
#9
In reply to #7

Re: October 20, 1944 - LNG Explosion Rocks Cleveland

10/28/2009 7:26 PM

i lived through the disaster i was little at the time but its something we never forget my family had friends perish in it. i too am trying too find pictures. i had the newspaper from then but over the years it came up missing. i remember the planes flying over with sand bags and the manhole covers being blown into the air all i can do to help is to tell you my story i can be reached at pongonana@yahoo.com if you want any more info from me . who knows your uncle could have been our family's friend? thank you

Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Reply to Blog Entry 9 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Previous in Blog: October 19, 1943 - Fighting More Than Tuberculosis   Next in Blog: October 21, 1824: Patenting Portland Cement
You might be interested in: Gas Compressors and Gas Compressor Systems, Gas Pressure Regulators, Gas Instruments