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Fire on board City of Singapore
Title : Fire on board City of Singapore Fire on board City of Singapore
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Source : B 37814
Date of creation : 1924
Format : Photograph
Contributor : State Library catalogue
Catalogue record
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Description :

Fire on S.S. City of Singapore in Port Adelaide (possibly No. 2 Quay), 26 April 1924.

Fire on SS City of Singapore in Port Adelaide at No. 2 Quay, 26 April 1924. This is considered the worst fire in the maritime history of Port Adelaide. The City of Singapore's visit to Port Adelaide was not originally scheduled. She was calling at the port instead of SS Kansas which had caught fire in Brisbane and was unable to sail to collect cargo for South Africa. City of Singapore made a fateful visit instead. The ship carried a highly flammable cargo of cased benzine, petrol and kerosene as well as other goods, some of which were off-loaded at Port Adelaide. Grain and flour for South Africa had been loaded on the morning of 26 April. Work had ceased for the day and the hatches were closed. Three watchmen were on duty with responsibility to ensure there was no smoking aboard ship, and that matches were not brought on board.

A small explosion in the early evening popped the hatch covers of number 4 hold and flames and smoke leapt out. The watchman on an adjacent ship called the police and fire brigades. The harbor master and the Port Adelaide and Semaphore brigades were quickly in attendance; the firefloat was also called out. The brigade from Wakefield Street headquarters was called out as those already in attendance were unable to cope with the intensity of the fire. By 10.30pm it appeared the fire was under control.

Then the ship exploded: pieces of ship were blown into the air, through the walls of the adjacent wharf shed, through the wharf; fire hoses were cut and the road surface was blasted in all directions. The firefloat was damaged when a flying case of petrol punched through the deck. Fire brigades which were already heading back to base, returned to renew the fight. Four firemen died, 10 were injured.

A number of crew members and private citizens were awarded medals and certificates from the Royal Humane Society of Australiasia. At Fire Brigades Headquarters in Adelaide a bronze plaque was placed commemorating the bravery of the firemen who died: GJA Anderson, James Hickey and Albert Greenman. This plaque was subsequently relocated to the foyer of the new headquarters building of the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service in Wakefield Street.

Coverage year : 1924
Place : Port Adelaide
Region : Adelaide metropolitan area
Further reading :

Ritter, Ron Triumph, tragedy and Port Adelaide [Para Vista, S. Aust.] Ronald C. Ritter, 2005 pp.52-91

Couper-Smartt, John Port Adelaide: tales from a "commodious harbour" Port Adelaide: Friends of the South Australian Maritime Museum, 2003

Parsons, Ronald, Southern passages: a maritime history of South Australia Netley, S. Aust.: Wakefield Press, 1986

Internet links :
Exhibitions and events :

State Library of South Australia: Mortlock Wing exhibitions. Wooden Walls and Iron Sides August 2004-



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