Hortons Point, RI Steamer MOHAWK Fire, Nov 1904

BIG FREIGHT STEAMER ABLAZE ON THE SOUND

Explosions Follow Fire on the Mohawk--Watchman Perishes.

27 TAKEN OFF IN BOATS

The Boston of Fall River Line to the Rescue--Vessel with $500,000 Cargo Destroyed.

Special to The New York Times.

FALL RIVER, Mass., Nov. 18--The Fall River Line freighter Boston landed twenty-seven persons at this port this morning, who had been rescued from the steamer Mohawk of the Central Vermont Railway's freight service, off Horton's Point, R. I., early yesterday morning while the vessel was on fire. Those rescued were Capt. Barker, Mate Emil Benson, the twenty-three men who constituted the crew, and Mrs. Charles Wilbur and Mrs. Julia Colby. Emil Larsen, the ship's watchman, was burned to death.

The Mohawk, which was one of the finest freighters on Long Island Sound, is a total loss, with her cargo, which was valued at nearly $500,000. The cargo, according to one of the officials of the line, consisted of everything from a keg of nails to a coffin. The vessel was worth about $300,000, and was heavily insured, as well as the cargo. No explanation as to how the blaze started had been obtained, and it is doubtful if it ever will be satisfactorily accounted for, since Larsen, the man who should have known, is dead. Capt. Blakeman of the Boston told the story of the loss of the Mohawk and the rescue of her crew.

"The Boston," he said, "came up with the Mohawk at 12:45 o'clock. She was then a mile east of Cornfield, which is about an hour's run from New London. Her entire forwards were aflame and burning furiously. The Mohawk signaled to us for assistance, which was unnecessary, as we had already headed for her. In a few minutes a boat containing Mrs. Wilbur and Mrs. Colby and some of the crew came alongside and were hauled aboard the Boston. The boat crew at once put back to the burning Mohawk to do what they could to save the vessel, but she was beyond human power. An hour later the flames spread from stem to stern, the crew abandoned the vessel, and, lowering two boats, headed for the Boston, which they reached just as a terrific explosion occurred. The force of the explosion lifted the iron decks of the Mohawk as if they were so much pasteboard, and then to make the job complete another explosion followed that blew the big smokestack high into the air."

Members of the crew of the Mohawk said the fire was discovered in the pilot house shortly after midnight. It was then well forward. The alarm was sounded promptly, and the men ordered to their stations to fight the blaze. The intense heat, however, steadily drove them aft. It is believed that Watchman Larsen died fighting the flames.

The charred hull of the Mohawk is not lying in Inlet Bar, west of Peconic, L. I.

The lighthouse keeper at Horton's Point, who saw the flames bursting from the vessel, and long after the Boston had rescued the crew of the Mohawk, made attempts to go to the assistance fo the burning freighter.

The Mohawk, which was a sister ship of the freighter Mohegan, was built at Chester, Penn., in 1896, and was owned by the New London Steamship Company, from whom she was charted by the Central Vermont Railway Line. She was a single screw vessel, and had a gross register of 2,784 tons. The freighter Nashua, which is lying at Providence, will take the Mohawk's place, the crew of the burned vessel having proceeded to that place today to man the vessel.

The New York Times, New York, NY 19 Nov 1904