Tuesday, 16 May 2017


The Register, Adelaide, 19 March, 1914.
Brigade Officers' Trying Task.
PORT PIRIE, March 18.
The fire in the bunkers of the steamer
Polam Hall is still burning. The fire brigade
steam engine was pumping in water all
night. The volume of smoke issuing from the
bunkers made the work of inspection very
difficult, and Foreman Kellett and his men
have had an arduous time.

The fire on the Polam Hall continues to
be troublesome. The reserve bunker, in 
which there is 300 or 400 tons of coal, 
is well alight. This is not water tight, and 
only a wooden bulkhead separates it from 
No. 2 hatch. The fire brigade has two lines 
of hose working with water pumped from 
the river. It was thought this afternoon that 
the flames were under control, but they 
have broken but afresh, without any 
immediate prospect of their being 
extinguished. Last night the station
officer of the fire brigade (Mr. Kellett)
and Mr. Davies (foreman) had a narrow
escape. They went below to investigate,
and were overcome by the smoke. Mr. 
Kellett managed to get up somehow, but 
line had to be thrown down for Mr. Davis.
This having been put around him he was
drawn up to the deck. He was unconscious
for about an hour. A smoke helmet was
eventually borrowed from another vessel in
port for the use of the fire brigade, the
members of which have had a hard time,
five of them as well as the officer in charge
having beep engaged in the work most of
the time since 5 o'clock last evening.

—Official Advice.—

Messages in regard to the fire in the
bunkers of the steamer Polam Hall, at
Port Pirie, were received by the Marine
Board on Wednesday. The harbourmaster
at the northern port wrote: — 'A fire was
discovered on Tuesday in the cross bunkers
of the steamer Polam Hall, lying at the
Federal-Wharf, loading ore. The ship's
hose was put on the fired area, and the
bunker was being emptied into the stoke
hole. At 4.30 p.m. I advised the master
that it was necessary to have the brigade's
steam pump to play on the fire. This was
sent for and is now (5.50 p.m.) at work.
I do not consider that there is any danger
to the firemen. A telegram sent by the
harbourmaster on Wednesday notified that
there had been no improvement.

Bunker coal fires could be treacherous and even in this port setting had the potential to overcome all human efforts. Can you imagine how difficult it must have been for a crew at sea to deal with such a scenario?
Port Pirie smelting plant, 1914.

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