Trial by Fire

Trial by Fire (HM16DM)

Location: New Bedford, MA 02740 Bristol County
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Country: United States of America
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N 41° 38.076', W 70° 55.392'

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New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park

— National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior —

Trial by Fire-During the early hours of January 18, 1977, gas leaked from a cracked main into the cellar of O'Malley's Tavern, located near where you are now standing. New Bedford had suffered two straight days of record-setting cold in an overall frigid winter. When thermostats clicked on that morning the gas exploded, leveling four buildings and shooting flames and debris throughout the area.

Lost were the three-story tavern, built about 1820, and the Macomber-Sylvia building next to it, which had just been restored and was to be sold that day. The explosion also blew up a building across Johnny Cake Hill and one on William Street, north of the whaling museum, and rocketed a four-ton I-beam and four firefighters across Union Street. Firefighters and gas company crews battled to contain the blaze for more than 12 hours, finally controlling he fire by dusk.

According to Peggi Medeiros, Waterfront Historic Area League (WHALE) Director of Education and Preservation Services, "At 6:45 the roof of the Sundial Building (to your right on the corner) caught fire. When the fire was finally out, most of the roof was gone and one wall was bowing out over North Water Street."

WHALE, having spent $41,000 to restore the now-lost Macomber-Sylvia building, convinced the city to rebuild the Sundial Building. WHALE raised funds to restore it and then donated the building to New Bedford Whaling Museum. Photos Courtesy WHALE.

HM NumberHM16DM
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, October 4th, 2014 at 10:48pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)19T E 339813 N 4610994
Decimal Degrees41.63460000, -70.92320000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 41° 38.076', W 70° 55.392'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds41° 38' 4.56" N, 70° 55' 23.52" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)508, 774
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 79-85 Union St, New Bedford MA 02740, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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