Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Chicago in Cook County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

The 1992 River West Gas Fires

 
 
The 1992 River West Gas Fires Marker image. Click for full size.
By Paul Fehrenbach, November 27, 2012
1. The 1992 River West Gas Fires Marker
Inscription. 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 ¼ 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
The 1992 River West Gas Fires Marker image. Click for full size.
By Paul Fehrenbach, November 27, 2012
2. The 1992 River West Gas Fires Marker
911 N. Willard Court
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
 
Erected 2008 by Illinois State Historical Society.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Illinois State Historical Society marker series.
 
Location. 41° 53.914′ N, 87° 39.505′ W. Marker is in Chicago, Illinois, in Cook County. Marker is at the intersection of North Willard Court and North Milwaukee Avenue, on the right when traveling north on North Willard Court. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 911 North Willard Court, Chicago IL 60642, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Site of the Haymarket Tragedy (approx. 1.2 miles away); Chicago & North Western Railway Powerhouse (approx. 1.2 miles away); Old Town and The Great Fire (#3) (approx. 1.4 miles away); Wacker Drive (approx. 1.4 miles away); First Post Office (approx. 1.4 miles away); Site of the Sauganash Hotel/Wigwam (approx. 1.4 miles away); Early Prominent Residents of Old Town (#2) (approx. 1.4 miles away); Old Town’s Entrepreneur Spirit (#1) (approx. 1.5 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Chicago.
 
Categories. Disasters
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on November 28, 2012, by Paul Fehrenbach of Germantown, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 690 times since then and 62 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on November 28, 2012, by Paul Fehrenbach of Germantown, Wisconsin. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
Paid Advertisement