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The Caspian Sea Inferno Of 1869

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From the Pall Mall Gazette of July 1869

◦A phenomenon of a most extraordianry nature has lately been wintnessed by the inhabitants of the borders of the Caspian Sea. this huge salt lake is dotted with numerous islands which produce yearly a large qunatity of naphtha and it is not uncommon occurrence for fires to break out in the works and burn for many days befe they can be extinguished. Early last month, owing to some subterraneous disturbances, enormous quantities of this inflammable sunbstance were projected from the naphtha wells and spread over the entire surface of the water and becoming ignited, notwithstanding every precaution, converted the whole sea into semblance of a gigantic flaming punchbowl many thousands of square miles in extent. The fire burnt itslef out in about 48 hours, leaving on the surface strewed with the dead bodies of innumerable fishes. Herodotus mentions a tradition that the same phenomenon was once before observed by the tribes inhabiting the shores of the Caspian Sea.

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