The Dork-O-Motive Podcast

1.18: A Miraculous Disaster - In 1949 The Holland Tunnel Burned At 4,000-Degrees And No One Died

May 15, 2020

Just before 9 A.M. on Friday, May 13th, 1949 a truck carrying unstable and dangerous chemicals exploded inside the Holland Tunnel's Southbound side while traveling out of New York City. Instantly, a disaster broke out with multiple trucks catching fire and the 100+ cars behind the mess grinding to a halt. 

Within scant minutes, heroic tunnel personnel were rushing people and cars out of the tunnel so fire crews could run in at the blazing inferno. Temperatures skyrocketed as trucks continue to explode and burn with the peak being recognized by engineers and those studying the disaster after the fact at some 4,000-degrees F. 

As the brave crews battled the fire, trucks, telecommunication lines, and even the ceiling supports melted. 650-tons of rubble were left on the floor of the tunnel when the fire was completely extinguished.

But no one died at the scene. Not only that, the tunnel was back in operation just 56 hours later like nothing had happened! This is an amazing story of a fire, a tunnel, bravery, and the get it done attitude of 1949 America. A truly miraculous disaster. 

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