On Saturday afternoon, February 24, 1973, Hamden firefighters on Platoon 3 got a lot more than they bargained for when they arrived at 86 Glenbrook Avenue on a reported truck fire. The truck was fuel oil tanker, fully involved.
The driver was preparing to make a heating oil delivery to the home of Myrtle Bryden when a fire started in the cab of the truck and extended to the adjacent gasoline tank. Noticing the smoke, the driver moved away from his truck just before the gasoline tank expoded, taking the oil cargo along with it.
The initial response was Engine 2, responding from Station 2 via Helen to Glenbrook. On arrival, Engine 2 immediately called for a full assignment consisting of Engine 1 and Ladder 1 (out of Station 2), Rescue 1 (out of HQ), and Engine 3 and Car 30 (out of Station 3).
Captain Tom Doherty, the officer on Engine 3, responded via Dixwell to Woodin Street to Glenbrook. Tom recalled that it was only he and driver Ray Chase on Engine 3, a 1968 Maxim 1000 GPM S model. They took the hydrant at the corner of Glenbrook, which was about 500 feet from the scene. Fire was coming off the top of the tanker. Flaming gasoline had engulfed a parked car and was flowing in the gutter.
The crews of Engines 1 and 2 were already on several lines, busy containing and extinguishing the fire on the Helen Street side, preventing entension to the surrounding houses. One engine was supplying an 1 1/2" Rockwood nozzle with a low velocity fog applicator attached, which has proved effective on gasoline fires. (Nearly thirty years earlier, in November 1944, the New Haven Fire Department extinguished a monster 10,000 gallon gasoline fire in a railroad cut near State Street using a 500 GPM Rockwood fog nozzle and nine other lines with fog nozzles.)
While Ray Chase hooked up big to the hydrant with Engine 3, several civilians helped Tom lug 500 feet of uncharged 2-1/2" supply line toward the scene, with an additional 100 feet of 1-1/2". He connected the 1-1/2" line to the tip of the 2-1/2" Rockwood nozzle at the end of the supply line (this can be seen in the newspaper photo above). When Ray charged Engine 3's supply line, Tom was able to direct a fog pattern toward the front of the truck with the 1 1/2". Tom says it was crazy.
The fire was extinguished in fairly short order. The tanker truck and parked car were totally destroyed, a nearby van was partially damaged, and the Bryden home suffered extensive heat damage.
Although there was great potential for a genuine conflagration on Glenbrook Avenue that day, swift containment efforts by Hamden firefighters' prevented any significant damage to other homes and property.
The photos on this page were taken by two different photographers. Unfortunately, neither is identified.
The two fire personnel next to Ladder 1 appear to be Capt. Tom Doherty and Ff. Fred Knudsen.
This view was most likely taken from the aerial ladder.
The fire did extensive damage to the home of Myrtle Bryden. The firefighter in the foreground looks like it could be Dave McDermott.
The '65 Chevy and the White Model 3000 tanker are a total loss.