Buffalo, NY Propeller RACINE fire, Aug 1864
A Disaster on Lake Erie.
BURNING OF THE PROPELLER RACINE.
From the Buffalo Courier, Aug. 12.
Capt. ARTHUR, with the passengers and crew (twenty-eight in all) of the burned propeller Racine reached this city last evening by the Lake Huron Railway from Port Stanley, to which place the propeller had conveyed them after their rescue. The passengers speak in the highest possible terms of Capt. ARTHUR and the officers of the steamer, and attribute their preservation to their heroic conduct. We gather from the passengers and crew the following particulars: Upon the alarm of fire being given, which was about 2 o'clock Wednesday morning, panic seized the passengers and some of the deck hands, and they rushed into and filled the boat hanging at the stern of the propeller almost instantly, and in the haste of its occupants to lower it into the water, the ropes were cut, and the boat fell foremost into the water against the wheel, and was quickly reduced to a wreck and its occupants drowned. Immediately after this catastrophe, which happened while Capt. ARTHUR and many of the crew were below endeavoring to quench the fire around the boiler, but which was soon found to be unsuccessful, the officers succeeded by using their revolvers in intimidating the remainder of the people on board to better discipline, and commenced launching the life and yawl boats from the hurricane deck, and although the vessel had been headed to the weind to keep the flames aft as long as possible, the launching of the boats was found to be very difficult, as the fire and smoke quickly enveloped them. It was, however, after great labor accomplished, and the passengers and crew placed in them, and ordered to row to some distance from the burning boat, fearing an explosion of the boiler or of the highwines which were fiercely burning.
Capt. ARTHUR, however, remained on deck, throwing over considerable property, and only left the ship when forced to do so by the flames; then unfurling the steamer's flag over her bows, called out - "Boys, the old flag floats over her yet!" and sliding down a rope into the water, was soon picked up by the lifeboat.
Having taken precautions to provision the boats, he directed them to keep in the vicinity of the burning steamer, as it would naturally attract attention and succor. The passengers were made very comfortable during the long hours they were obliged to wait for some passing vessel; witnessing, in the meantime, the destruction of their steamer. They were at last rejoiced to hear the whistle of an approaching propeller, which proved to be the lower lake propeller Avon, Capt. SMITH, who took them on board, and towed the burning wreck to land - a distance of eighteen or twenty miles, where she was scuttled and beached, and now lies in ten feet of water. The passengers and crew were then taken to Port Stanley, about fifty miles. To Capt. SMITH and the people of the Avon the grateful acknowledgment of the survivors are due, for the many courtesies and the great assistance rendered in saving the hull and machinery of the boat. The passengers and crew saved lost everything except what they had on their persons. The books were also lost, although they had been carefully put into a bag and placed in the life-boat; yet in handing them on board the Avon it was dropped into the lake and sank, rendering it impossible to give an accurate list of those lost.