Fall River, MA Steamer Providence Fire, Mar 1908

FIRE ON SOUND LINER; PASSENGERS ALARMED

Blaze Starts in Freight on the Providence on Her Way from Fall River.

PECK TAKES PASSENGERS

Four Hundred Transferred from Craft In Distress, Though the Fire Was Soon Put Out.

While the Fall River Line streamer Providence was on her way from Fall River to this city with 400 passengers yesterday morning, fire was discovered among some freight on the forward deck. Not wanting to take the slightest risk for the safety of the passengers, her skipper blew distress signals and later transferred every one to the Richard Peck of the New Haven Line, Which brought them to this city.

The fire was discovered on the Providence about 4:30 o'clock. There was much excitement among the passengers when they were awakened to find the ship on fire. They ran to the saloon in various stages of undress. The women were fast becoming panic-stricken when the officers and stewards went among them with assurances that there was no danger.

The Providence, in command of Capt. W. B. Appelby, was nearing City Island when the fire was first noticed. The passengers, most of whom were aroused by the stewards, found smoke pouring through the vessel. Two or three women became hysterical and their alarm was increased by a deck hand who ran through the ship crying "Fire!" at the top of his voice. The officers had hard work to hold the passengers in check.

The whistle of the Providence sounded four blasts, a warning. A wireless message sent by Capt. Appelby was received on board the steamer Boston, and by the Boston office of the company. The Boston at once notified the skipper of the Providence that he would stand by. This was unnecessary, for the Richard Peck, which was coming up behind, at the first blast for help ranged alongside and the work of transferring the passengers began.

A gangplank was put from on vessel to the other, and the 400 passengers made the trip from boat to boat without accident. In the excitement, however, many left their hand luggage behind them. The crew of the Providence behaved well. They carried out the fire drill perfectly. A line of hose was run into the hold and the men soon had the fire out. At no time, the officers declare, was there the slightest danger.

Capt. Nickerson, Superintendent of the line, said that he did not know how the fire started. He estimated the damage at about $1,000. The Providence, the Richard Peck, and the Boston all belong to the New England Navigation Company.

The New York Times, New York, NY 14 Mar 1908