Blame Black Dust On Cleaning S. P. Boilers
Residents Complain Of Dirt In Homes
A large section of northwest El Paso awoke this morning with a black face.
Some time during the night a mysterious cloud of soot moved in and blanketed Sunset Heights, part of Kern Place, and areas as far east as Octavia street.
The sticky "black stuff' was everywhere.
Like in Coal mine
Early this morning grimy El Pasoans began telephoning The Herald-Post city desk, seeking an explanation. Mrs. C. H. Cooper of 1601 North Stanton street, whose family slept on a porch last night, gave a typical statement: "When we got up today we all looked like tar babies."
Mrs. R. L. Drake of 1024 North Oregon street said her whole apartment "looked like a coal mine."
None of El Paso's industries created the soot, officials said.
Sand and Soot
However, a railroad man who didn't want to be quoted gave what seemed to other railroad men a likely explanation...
He said that westbound locomotives release clouds of oily soot when they "sand out."
"Sanding out," railway officials explained, is a common practice on oil-burning locomotives. Sand is placed in the fire box and is drawn through boiler tubes, cleaning the tubes of accumulated soot.
An experienced railroad executive, after examining the soot, said he is positive it came from oil burning locomotives. Presence of sand in the soot proved it was caused by sanding of locomotive flues, he said.
Wind Carried Soot
One railway informant said he has seen locomotives "sanding out” just west of Union Depot many times. Last night westerly, northwesterly and southwesterly winds were right for carrying the soot into the northwest section of town.
P. D. Robinson, Southern Pacific superintendent, was out of town. Other S. P. officials said they doubt that S. P. engines released the soot. Said one official: "We have a strict rule against sanding out in the city. Crews are instructed not to sand out until they get well outside the city."
Agree on Smoke
S. P. officials agreed, that sanding out of oil burning locomotives could cause clouds of soot.
All El Paso railroads now have abandoned coal burners and use only diesel and oil burning locomotives.
Officials of the Smelter and Southwestern Portland Cement Co. said their plants could not have caused the black soot or smoke.
The U. S. Weather Bureau reported that last evening, until 10 p. m., the wind was from the southwest. From then until 1:30 a. m. it was from the northwest. For about an hour it was directly from the west, and for the rest of the night from the south. Highest velocity was 19 miles an hour.
Many El Pasoans had their windows open last night, for it was hot. At midnight the temperature was 87, and it did not get below 70 all night.
Sheets Were Covered
Sgt. Gene E. Lee and his family woke up in their one-room apartment at 1318 North El Paso street and thought they had been in a black snow storm. An oil soot covered their sheets, smeared Mrs. Lee's arms, and blackened the face of their son Stephen. The landlady Mrs. Bertha Morrell Quitero found soot in her kitchen downstairs, and said her son Oscar was specked.
Mrs. George M. Berhnardt of 301 West Yandell boulevard said her husband went-out to get the newspaper and made a black trail in his stocking feet. Then she noticed her sheets were covered with the stuff. "It's terrible," she said. "The oil soot seems to penetrate bed clothing. I have lived here 31 years and never have seen anything like this before."
Oil and Sticky
Said Mrs. H. A. Bowden of 212 West Rio Grande street: "When I tried to wash out my clothes they were covered with this black stuff. It was all over the bed and all me."
Mrs. L. B. Baltz of 1109 North Kansas street said the black dust seemed to be lighter than ordinary soot, and was oily and sticky.
Mrs. Gordon O'Neal 'of 1309 North Ochoa street: "When we woke up we looked like a bunch of grease monkeys. Cinders were solid all over our sheets. It looked like we'd been-tied on the back of an Arkansas coal burner."
L. B. Armstrong of 1700 North Oregon street said the soot covered windows and the sidewalk. He wondered if the Smelter had blown its' stack. (Smelter officials said they produce only white smoke.)
Half Inch Deep
Mrs. Charles Skinner of 1401 North Campbell street: "My home is full of soot. I've been cleaning since 5 a. m, today. My little boy as black as tar."
"Everybody in my house was loaded with soot," said Mrs. Lucy Raef of 708 North Virginia street.
Mrs. James Mexicotte of 212 West Rio Grande street: "The soot was a inch deep on the door sill of my apartment It's greasy when you try to wipe it up. It looks like Pittsburgh.
Pink oleander blossoms at the home of Mrs L.C. Phillips at 415 West Yandell were spotted with black.
Up Early to Wash Porch
Mrs. Phillips, thought the soot was caused from burning garbage next door until she checked her upstairs and downstairs porches.
Mrs. E, J. Halow of 501-Los Angeles wondered why her husband was up so early washing the front porches. She later found it was the soot storm.
The fine soot managed to squeeze in closed windows, but her home was not as badly affected as those on Yandell.
Mrs. T. B. Smith of 711 West Yandell, said she first learned of the soot storm when a guest apologized for spilling black ink.
Like Black Ink
Mrs. Smith investigated and found the "black ink" was all over her house, in the lawn and sidewalks. It came from all directions to her home.
"I've never seen anything like this before," Mrs. Smith said. "I just can't imagine what it is."
Mrs. E. A. Wells of 511 Randolph street was not so badly "sooted in." Soot covered her front porch chairs, and filled in cracks in the sidewalks and streets. Little got in her home.
Mrs. C. D. Merari of 504 West Yandell boulevard saw the "soot storm" when it hit around 3 a. m She said it obscured the moon, and tickled her nose and throat Her two children both have sore throats today.
"We thought it was some kind of a sand storm," she said. "It fell on everything—furniture, linens, floors and porches. My house is a terrible mess, and it was spotless yesterday."
Numerous persons complained of the soot storm to Mayor Hervey today.
A Magoffin avenue resident, who declined to give her name, said her white cat turned black overnight from the soot. Freshly laundered curtains were blackened, she said.