Little Egg Harbor, NJ Ship St Francis Fire, May 1897


Beached, While on Fire, on the New Jersey Coast.

Fifteen thousand miles and 'round the Horn the big American wooden ship Francis had come, laden deep with the rich products of California, to find her doom in fire and a grave in the Jersey sands.

Out from San Francisco 112 days, she was thirty miles off the southern Jersey coast at 4 o'clock Saturday afternoon when smoke was discovered coming from a room between decks aft, in which ship's provisions are kept. The men were called to fire quarters, pumps were worked, and water played into the lazarette, but the fire found ready prey in the stores and woodwork and made rapid headway.

Soon the decks became so hot that it was hard for the men to stand upon them, and they climbed into the rigging. Then the flames came through the decks, and as they sprang to the rigging and ignited the woodwork of the deckhouses, a brilliant glare was thrown over the ocean.

It was about 8 o'clock that the patrol of the life-saving stations at Little Egg Harbor and Little Beach saw the illumination, and an hour and a half later the blazing hulk came bowling through the surf and struck the bar at Little Egg Harbor Inlet. The life savers were alongside the doomed craft almost the instant she struck, so that the crew was quickly rescued. None of the twenty-four men on board saved anything.

The Francis was owned by F. H. Stone & Co., and hailed from New Bedford, her agents here being Vernon H. Brown & Co. She was built at Bath in 1885 and measured 1,974 tons register, being 231 feet long, 43 feet beam, and 26 feet deep.

The New York Times, New York, NY 10 May 1897