But if you were to get the oil burning:
THE GREAT PRESIDIO OIL FIRE
At 1000 hours on September 14, 1924, the 11th Cavalry once again found itself in a fight. However, this time there were no bullets involved. The Presidio of Monterey was located right next to the Tidewater-Associated Marine Terminal, an oil storage facility. One of the oil storage tanks had been struck by lightning and set on fire. The fires in the wooden oil storage tanks were soon found to be almost impossible to control and the fire spread. Those warehouses closest to the fire contained grain and hay for the horses of the Regiment. The Army began to evacuate these warehouses and the work was completed just 10 minutes before the first oil tank exploded, covering the buildings with burning oil. As the burning tanks collapsed, rivers of burning oil flowed down the streets towards Monterey Bay. The heat from the fires became so intense that people several hundred feet away were burned.
Troopers fought the fires from behind sections of wooden fencing used as shields against the heat. Ladders were placed up against the sides of the burning tanks and troopers were ordered up them to spray water directly into the tanks. Many of these troopers died when the tanks collapsed and they were thrown into the burning oil.
Five days later, when the fire had finally burning itself out, it was found that 26 men were missing from the rolls and several hundred were injured. (Through the Army Memorial Program, many streets of Monterey, California, bear the names of the men who died fighting the fire. The bravery of these troopers is still remembered today, for if the oil had been allowed to flow down onto the town of Monterey and the many wooden structures, a greater number of loss of life and property would have most certainly been greater if it was not for the 11th Cavalry.
LESSONS LEARNED: With this and other similar above ground oil storage tanks fires, lessons were learned, that have affected the oil storage procedures industry wide.
That is, due to the fixed roofing and with repeated drainage/refilling; would naturally generate spacing between the oil and roofing unit. Vapors would develop and it is this, that most believed actually ignited, when the lighting struck. Lighting rods are of little value in these situations. When rainwater or the fire extinguishing water would land on top of the oil, this in time would descend as oil being lighting then water. With the tempter of the burring oil began reaching 212 degrees, the water converts to vapor expanding rapidly thus causing eruption of hot boiling burning oil.
This was not a familiar concept to the troopers who were working in good faith they treated the fire as a “wood burning fire” and continued to spray water onto the tanks hoping to cool the metal/wood casing enough to contain the oil. As the heat would transfer from one tank unit across to an adjacent unit that too would reach a tempter causing that unit to likewise explode, which lead to more loss of life.
Any water accumulated from previous rains that became covered with repeated “drainage/refilling of oil” generated a layering of oil-water-oil etc., when heated, expands and explodes or in this case, oil boiled up and over the sides of the containers. There are several accounts of the storage tank casings becoming too hot and collapsing inward tossing the troopers into the vat of burning oil.
Major lesson learned is that now the “tops” of these oil storage units are a floating top that does not allow the collection of vapors, distance between tanks has extended, a massive earth works have been constructed to contain the total oil within the storage unit in a designated area thus preventing expansion of the burning oil over to other units.
NOTE: Presidio Fire Station
While Brigadier General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing (along with the 11th Cav)
was withdrawing from Mexico and the conclusion of the Punitive Expedition a
tragic fire that took the lives of Pershing’s wife and three of his four children. The Presidio Fire Department was the first military fire department to be established in the United States and was staffed by a civilian fire crew. The Fire Station was one of the first Army stations equipped with automotive fire engines.
Seek peace but keep your gun handy.
I'm not a complete idiot, some parts are missing!
“Illegitemus non carborundum est (“Don’t let the bastards grind you down”).”
― Julia Child