City of Signal Hill remembers 1958 Hancock oil refinery fire with public event

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On Saturday, May 24, 2008, the City of Signal Hill will be commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Hancock Oil Refinery Fire.
The fire, which occurred on May 22, 1958, was one of the largest fires in California history and was one of the first instances of mutual aid among fire departments, with units from the Signal Hill Fire Department, Long Beach Fire Department, Los Angeles County Fire Department, and Vernon Fire Department responding.
The fire burned for 72 hours, and the smoke cloud could be seen for several miles.
“We are looking forward to honoring the firefighters who saved our community, many of whom were not recognized for their bravery 50 years ago,” said Signal Hill Mayor Michael Noll. “Many people throughout our region vividly remember the fire and the damage caused miles around from ash and petroleum falling from the sky,” said Noll.
The City of Signal Hill has commissioned a video documentary of this event that includes never before seen film footage and photographs, as well as interviews with the firefighters.
A private ceremony honoring the firefighters involved in extinguishing the fire will be held from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The event will be open to the public from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. to view the video and displays. Copies of the DVD will be available beginning May 24 for $20.00. Proceeds from the sale of will benefit the Friends of the Signal Hill Library.
For further information, contact Becky Burleson, assistant to the city manager, at (562) 989-7305.
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7 thoughts on “City of Signal Hill remembers 1958 Hancock oil refinery fire with public event

  1. yes my mom was up there when this happened she just got off work and was on her way home in lakewood.

  2. My dad was a fireman at Vernon Fire Dept and was at this fire. The fire truck in the photo is the Vernon truck. My friend and I went to the fire and watched the action for some time. It was all pretty exciting for a couple of high school kids.

  3. The Signal Hill Oil fire of 1958 happened when I was 10 years old and living in Lakewood, California. It could be seen from our house on Oliva Ave. near Captain Raymond Collins School. At that time it was quite a frightening situation because we really did not know immediately what was happening or why for the lack of cell phones, Internet or other devices to inform us. And as a child, I thought that we were bombed due to the air raids and bomb practice that took place in our elementary school in those days.
    Signal Hill was a very interest place and always will be for me,because I am a retired teacher and historic artist, now residing in Arizona, that uses information about this place and other places around the world which I include with each of my tiny paintings.

  4. To Whom Concerns: I would just simply like to say Thank-You so very much for remembering all of the fire-fighter that fought in that horrible blaze but I’m hoping that you remember one particular fire-station that was called to help fight that fire it was the fire station at the old Long Beach Municipal Airport my grandfather was stationed there his name was Floyd Walch even though I was not born at that time when it happened I was born in 1959 but my grandfather Floyd Walch & my grandmother or his wife Ann Walch remembers that horrible day very well when they were alive my grandfather Floyd Walch passed away in 2000 from a heart attack but if he was alive today I’m very sure he would be very grateful that you remember him & his company that fought that terrible blaze. Thanks Again So Very Much From Floyd Walch’s Grand-Daughter Cheryl Thrasher

  5. Copies of the DVD will be available for $20.00. Proceeds from the sale of will benefit the Friends of the Signal Hill Library.
    For further information, contact Becky Burleson, assistant to the city manager, at (562) 989-7305.

    To whom concerned.

    Please tell me what I need to do to receive a DVD of the Signal Hill Fire of 1958.
    I lived in Lakewood Ca, in which I was 7 yrs. old, but remember it very well.
    I WAS SCARED TO DEATH !!!
    I watched the fire on my parents Black & White TV, while running outside to look up in the sky with fright.
    Went to Gompers School, getting under desk, air-raids, war stories. — I was so frightened !!!!

    Again, … I’d love to have a DVD of the horrible event.

    PS, … I miss California.
    I now live in Arkansas.
    I’m 65 yrs. old.

  6. I was six years old and still remember seeing this fire from Long Beach. It was spectacular! Good work Firefighters.

  7. I was 8 years old remanber the fire. At that time I lived in Bellflower on Armore and Rose St. I remanber seeing the flames from our house. I’m 67 and still remanber it like it happen yesterday.

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