The longest and most unusual battle that Memphis fire fighters ever fought began on December 2, 1956, at the Quaker Oats Company plant at Chelsea and Holmes Road. Over 70,000 tons of corncobs, piled behind the Quaker plant, caught fire as a result of spontaneous combustion. The corncobs were to be used in the manufacture of alcohol and charcoal briquettes. The fire, which was spread over several acres, burned for an unbelievable 23 days. The Memphis fire department pumped several million gallons of water and used over 4,500 gallons of gasoline to operate 14 pieces of equipment to combat the blaze, at a total cost of $420,000. One engine pumped water for 130 consecutive hours without shutting down. On December 25, 1956, the fire was officially declared under control. This unusual fire was the first of its type known to occur in the United States, and it resulted in a great amount of research on methods of storing this material.

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