Fatal Prest-O-Lite Fire, December 1907

This image was derived from a photo originally published in the December 20, 1907 Indianapolis News as part of its coverage of the second great explosion and fire event for the Prest-O-Lite Company owned by Indianapolis Motor Speedway founders Carl Fisher and James Allison. The first conflagration for the company took place four months earlier on August 17, 1907. The second explosion event was far more tragic than the first, although both raise questions about the judgment and ambitions of Fisher and AllisonElmer Jessup, an employee of the company, suffered horrible burns and passed away just hours later in City Hospital. Both disasters took place at the company's Pearl and East Street facility that was the location of a former veterinary college.
Check out other images from the 1907 fire:

  • Firemen scale ladders to reach second and third floors.
  • A Fireman wades in knee deep water after debris clogged the only sewer drain.
  • Shattered planks of wood train box car reflect the force of flying brass canisters hurled by acetylene explosions.
  • Indianapolis Fire Department Chief Charles Coots oversees the work of his firefighter "hose company" teams.
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