Remembering State Port Disaster

The hazmat spill Monday along the state port terminal brought back memories of Morehead City's worst disaster ever recorded.

On September 26, 1961, a tanker ship known as the "Potomac" burst into flames while unloading its 101,000 gallons of fuel. That explosion caused residents in downtown Morehead City to be evacuated from the port all the way up to 12th street.

Shirley Lucas, 84 years-old, remembers that day like it was yesterday. "And of course everything was chaotic, it was like a mad house. The oil from the ship was floating on top of the water and the water was on fire."

That blaze in 1961 burned for six straight days and was finally extinguished on October 1st. Two men died in the fire.


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  • by John Location: Carteret Co on Jan 12, 2010 at 07:17 PM
    That was an awsome story by Dave. Growing up here, I've always heard about it, but never really knew much about it. Funny thing is, when I heard about today's spill, I thought about that one back in the 60's. That lady he interviewed was great, how the heck did he find someone that was there so quick? I truly enjoyed that one WITN!
  • by Mike Location: greenville on Jan 12, 2010 at 05:42 PM
    I remember that fire. I was in the 9th grade at Havelock and we went to the beach to Sportsman Pier to fish and you could feel the heat from the fire at the pier. We also could see the glow in the sky as we came through Newport on our way to the beach.
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