Staten Island barge explodes

A barge unloading 100,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline exploded at an Exxon-Mobil terminal.

BY TRAVIS DUNN | STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. | February 21, 2003



"We're treating this as a fire and nothing else. We don't want to allude to anything."

—Jim Ryan


A barge in the process of unloading 100,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline exploded at an Exxon-Mobil terminal here at 10:10 a.m. Friday, according to a company spokesperson.

At least two people were injured and one person was missing, according to Exxon-Mobil.

Flames shot hundreds of feet into the sky, and the fire could be seen as far away as Trenton, New Jersey, about 35 miles from the terminal.

About 200 New York City firefighters battled the Friday morning blaze, according to Fire Cheif William Van Wart, and managed to confine the fire "to a small area." While the cause of the explosion was unknown, "all indications are that this was an accident," he said.

Jim Ryan, spokesman for the New York State Office of Emergency Management, said there was no reason to jump to any unwarranted conclusions.

"We're treating this as a fire and nothing else," Ryan said. "We don't want to allude to anything."

Ryan said the New York Army National Guard has dispatched a unit to monitor air quality around the fire, which sent large plumes of black smoke rolling along the terminal.

Ryan characterized the site as an industrial area. "There are no residents really close to it," he said.

The Coast Guard shut down the Arthur Kill Waterway in response to the fire, according to Jolie Shifflet, a Coast Guard spokesperson.

Shifflet also said that the Atlantic Strike Force, the Coast Guard's environmental team, was helping to clean up whatever materials had leaked into the harbor.


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