The 1992 River West Gas Fires

The 1992 River West Gas Fires (HM15RD)

Location: Chicago, IL 60642 Cook County
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Country: United States of America
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N 41° 53.914', W 87° 39.505'

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At 4 P.M. on January 17, 1992, a series of explosions and fires ravaged the River West community. The fires were in an area bounded by the Chicago River, the Kennedy Expressway, and Kinzie and Division Streets. The devastation was caused by over-pressurization in the natural gas pipelines leading to homes and businesses.

Two-hundred and twenty-five fire fighters responded to the emergency. The disaster resulted in 4 fatalities and 18 buildings destroyed or damaged.

Initially the increase in pressure was attributed to a faulty regulator. However, after lengthy investigations, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that a Peoples Gas Company crew was responsible. While doing routine maintenance on gas pressure valves in a vault at Erie and Green Streets, the crew failed to monitor downstream gas pressure. When the regulators were off-line, normal gas pressure of ? PSI soared to at least 10 PSI - 40 times the normal level.

The extreme pressure caused hissing noises in stoves, furnaces, and space heaters. Many individuals shut off their gas service, thereby saving lives and property.

Based on recommendations by the ICC and the NTSB, regulator valves that once controlled entire neighborhoods were replaced by individual regulators at each building. Increased training for gas crews was also initiated.

This marker is mounted at 911 North Willard Street, one of the original buildings damaged by the River West Gas Fires.

Sponsored by the Neighbors of River West, Timothy O'Mahony, and the Illinois State Historical Society
HM NumberHM15RD
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Illinois State Historical Society series
Year Placed2008
Placed ByIllinois State Historical Society
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, October 13th, 2014 at 11:12pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16T E 445384 N 4638723
Decimal Degrees41.89856667, -87.65841667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 41° 53.914', W 87° 39.505'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds41° 53' 54.84" N, 87° 39' 30.30" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)505
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 911 N Willard Ct, Chicago IL 60642, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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