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East Flank, Signal Hill

This is a photograph taken from the air looking east across Signal Hill just outside Long Beach, California, 1958. There are a cluster of wells to the left of the fire that is Signal Hill itself. This is actually a small refinery/above ground storage fire for a company called Hancock Oil Company. Little facilities like this were called "tea pots," and existed all over California in the late 1930's, 40's and 50's. This was a big fire that burned up lots of oil and on this wind blew lots of shit over Palos Verdes and wealthy neighborhoods in SW Los Angeles. If this were to happen today all of California would have an absolute cow. Back in the day, however, California was losing control of wells almost every day and it has a spectacular history of blowouts and fires.

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