Toronto, ON Oil Barge Fire, July 1934
THREE FIREMEN DIE IN BLAZE AT TORONTO.
BELIEVED INSTANTLY KILLED WHEN TRAPPED IN HOLD OF BLAZING OIL-BARGE.
CAUGHT IN TERRIFIC EXPLOSION, DOZEN OTHER MEN ARE INJURED.
Toronto, July 24. (CP) -- Three firemen, trapped in the hold of a blazing oil barge, died apparently instantly on Monday. Their bodies were recovered hours later after fire department and a wrecking scow pumps had cleared the hold of thousands of gallons of mixed oil and water. Monday night numerous oil truck and steam pumps was trying to clear the oil from the water of Toronto harbor, fearing a disastrous fire which will wreak still further damage.
The firemen, District Chief JAMES DIXON; Lieutenant JAMES HENRY and Fireman W. SWYRE, had entered the hold of the vessel in order to make a fire which drew all district equipment to the scene was thoroughly extinguished.
Hardly had they entered the dark pit when a terrific explosion caught them. Eleven of their comrades on deck, with the owner of the vessel, was blown helter-skelter, some of them falling into the water.
J. E. RUSSELL.
RUSSELL owned the barge, while TALFRE was working on the vessel. All, the others were from the fire department.
The vessel sank at its moorings after firemen had battled for hours and tried vainly to rescue their comrades.
The injured were taken to hospital where an entire floor was given over to their care. Blood transfusions were given in several cases, and at least six of the men were said to be seriously burned. Others suffered broken limbs when the blast sent them sailing in the air and in the fall on the deck of the barge. One man was blown overboard but was rescued.
The explosion came after firemen had been summoned when a small blaze broke out on the boat. The oil barge, towed here several weeks ago from Port Dalhousie, had been bought by the John E. Russell Construction Company. Monday, Chalmers went aboard to set a windlass and began chipping the deck. They said none of their party smoked.
Some of the men fell on deck gear and the wheel house. Firemen MORRISON said the chief fell into the blazing hold.
The fire tug Rouille began pouring water on the forward part of the barge. Facing teriffic heat, the firemen on shore poured foaming chemicals into the blazing hulk. Other tugs took nearby barges to points of safety.
Workmen from the McColl-Frontenac refinery nearb, skilled in handling oil blazes, joined the city firemen in the fight that went on for three hours. Slowly the hulk filled with water and sank. Oil burning on the surface was soon extinguished and efforts were turned to pumping out the barge.
Richard "Irish Dick" Furlong, of Port Colborne, former watchman with Gordon Baker on the oil barge, had a premonition of disaster.
Last Thursday when word was given that refitting of the barge would start, Furlong told his buddy he didn't like and didn't want a job as chandler.
"I don't like this job," he said, before hurrying back to Port Colborne.
"Something about it gives me the creeps. I'm through."
Winnipeg Free Press Manitoba Canada 1934-07-24