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Author Topic: Fire at Blue Town. 15 April 1909  (Read 2079 times)

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Fire at Blue Town. 15 April 1909
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2015, 23:27:38 »
Fire at the White House Sailor's Home, Blue Town. 15 April 1909. One killed.

Leaping Though Flames.

An Acrobatic rescue.

Extraordinary scenes were witnessed [says the 'Daily News'] at fires on April 15, which caused enormous damage. At Sheerness a Sailors' Home was found to be alight at the time the inmates were in bed, and bluejackets and marines leaped in most daring manner from the upper storeys. Several were injured, and one man is missing. A civilian was responsible for a remarkable act of bravery.

Noticing dense masses of smoke coming from the roof at the rear of the building, which is three storeys high, and has accommodation for 400 (seems a lot, must mean 40) sailors, the police promptly roused the inmates, numbering 39, 30 being bluejackets and marines. No fire escape being available, the police requisitioned a ladder, but it did not reach to the top of the building.

Some inmates escaped by climbing through the lower windows to this ladder. Many jumped from the leads(?), 55ft above, on to a portion of the building 10ft high, which juts out in front. One marine had a miraculous escape. His fall being stopped by a protruding portion he broke several ribs.The scene was an eerie and terrifying one as the unclad forms dropped from above through the flames and blinding smoke. One sailor swarmed down a spout, but when another essayed to do so the spout broke away, and he was hurled into the street and injured. Brave marines carried the half-clothed servants down the ladder, showing wonderful agility. A civilian, still in his teens, pulled a bed stead near to a upper window, twined his feet around it, and hanging head downwards in the smoke, lowered the proprietor's little girl to safety. A marine falling from the second storey smashed his kneecap.

Ultimately after these thrilling exhibitions of bravery and recklessness, 38 of the 39 were found to have left the building. One man, Joshua Jones, of the Royal Marine Light Infantry, serving on the Victorious, has, it is feared, met a fearful death in the conflagration. He is a single man. The many injured were removed on ambulances to the Dockyard sick quarters. Had the wind been blowing probably the greater part of Blue Towns wooden houses would have been burned.
The Sheerness Brigade prevented the fire from spreading, but the premises were a complete ruin. A squad of men from the Victorious, in the hope of finding Jones's body, are pulling down some of the walls. The proprietor was first warned of the danger by the barking of a dog. He aroused the sleeping inmates but the building was then furiously burning.

The premises were built as far back as 1763, when the upper storey of the three houses was used as the meeting place of the members of the Bethel Congregational Church, and John Wesley preached in it in 1767, after permission had been withdrawn by the Governor of Sheerness Garrison for him to preach in the Garrison Chapel.

From the Guyra Argus (Aus) 1 July 1909.


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