St. Johns, NF (off coast) Ship Explosion, Apr 1926
SEALING SHIP BURNS IN ICE FLOES.
STOKER LOSES LIFE; FOUR OTHERS HURT.
TALES OF HEROISM IN LATEST MARINE DISASTER TOLD BY CREW.
79 SURVIVORS LANDED.
EXPLOSION THAT DESTROYED VESSEL CAUSED BY MISTAKING GASOLINE FOR KEROSENE.
St. Johns, N.F., April 10. -- (AP) -- The Newfoundland seal hunt has claimed new toll in life and gear. The sealing steamer Eagle brought to this port today the body of JAMES BREWIN, a stoker on the steamer Seal, and details of that vessel's loss through explosion and fire among the ice floes off Bay Du Verdo. Four injured men were among the seventy-nine survivors of the Seal's crew landed here.
A tale of heroism also was told to the hundreds who gathered at the docks to hear of the lastest disaster to the dwindling sealing fleet. As EDWARD PEREZ, chief engineer of the Seal, was carried ashore from the Eagle suffering from serious burns, men told how he risked his life to carry BREWIN from the blazing engine room of the doomed ship after the stoker had suffered fatal injury in an explosion of gasoline.
The Seal, making her second trip to the ice fields
since the sealing season opened March 5, was cruising among the floes eight miles off Bay Du Verde yesterday, the survivors told. BREWIN, about to fill an oil lamp in the engine room, picked up the wrong can and poured out gasoline instead of kerosene.
There was an explosion and fire spread rapidly from the engine room to the rest of the ship. When
it reached the magazine where the rifles and ammunition used by the seal hunters were stored
a second and greater explosion occurred. A great
hole was blown in the side of the steamer and the crew took to the ice.
PEREZ was burned when he seized BREWIN after the first explosion and dragged the unconscious men to the deck. Three other men suffered burns as they struggled vainly to combat the flames. The stoker was carried off the vessel
by the crew, but died four hours later of burns and shock.
The survivors faced without dread the prospect of a night on the ice floes. Their boats were well stocked with food and water, and they had salvaged sails for use as tents. Shelters were improvised on the ice and the injured men were given the best treatment available. The explosion had ruined the Seal's wireless equipment, but news of the accident was spread in another way. On the shores in the little fishing village of Grates Cove men saw the steamer burning fiercely as the fog occasionally lifted. The word was carried by dog team to Rail Head at Grates and forwarded by telegraph to St. Johns.
From this place wireless instructions were sent to the Eagle, which raced through the night to the aid of her sister vessel, arriving in the early morning. In the meantime watchers on shore had seen the Seal burn to the waters' edge, keel over and sink.
Galveston Daily News Texas 1926-04-11