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Day the lake burned

Black smoke spewed up into a tornado like cloud over East Lake drawing a large audience. It started on a Wednesday night when the Great Lakes pipeline which runs west of the lake began to leak fuel oil. Before the leak was discovered and stopped Thursday, between 40,000 and 50,000 gallons of fuel oil had run down the hill at the north end of the lake and threatened to spread out over the entire surface of the water.

In an effort to halt the flow of fuel oil into the lake, two caterpillars were rushed to the scene. A series of earthen barriers was thrown up between the road and the north end of the lake. A final barrier was built across the lake itself. High winds on Friday delayed plans to burn off the oil until 3:30 in the afternoon when the fire was set.

It was not until the oily black smoke began billowing up from the lake that most residents learned of the pipeline break. Motorists saw smoke swirling over the dam from the highway and stopped to investigate. By 4:30 East City Park was jammed with cars as was the Clay street road on the north side of the lake.

Pipeline workers stood by until dark to keep the fire from spreading and spectators left only after the final pool of oil had ignited. Most of them commenting they wished they had some of that oil in their basements.

-1952

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