INSPECTORS' REPORT. - The local inspectors of steamboats, who have been making investigations in regard to the burning of the steamer R. N. Rice, have submitted the following report to Capt. P. J. Ralph, Supervising Inspector of the Eighth District:
We have spent considerable time investigating this case, and from the evidence before us we are of the opinion that the fire originated in the steerage aft, below the main deck. The steerage was not used for passengers. There were some five or six staterooms opening from the steerage, and it was in one of the rooms where the fire started. It was but a few minutes before the hall and stairs leading to the steerage were in flames, and the ladies cabin aft on the main deck, and almost at the same instant the upper cabin was in flames. The hull of the steamer is not injured, but her cabins are nearly all burned off. The damage including the machinery, is estimated at $42,000. We are pleased to state that there was no loss of life. Every effort was made to save the steamer. The hand fire pumps on board were used. The steamers (ferry boats) Fortune and Excelsior were soon alongside, and rendered good service with their steam pumps, and upon the arrival of the city fire engines, they together saved the steamer from total destruction. Much credit is due to Capts. Campbell and Horn, of the ferry boats, also to the fire department for their prompt action and good management during the time the boat was on fire.
The R. N. Rice was one of the largest sidewheel steamers on the lakes and was well equipped in every particular. She was built at Detroit in 1866, and cost $180,000. Her register is 1,096 tons, and she has been used exclusively in the trade between Detroit and Cleveland since she was built.
The examination made by the same board of the steam tug Wm. H. Pringle on St. Clair River, May 31, establishes the fact that the fire originated in the coal bunker alongside the boilers. The hull of the tug was not materially injured, but the upper works are entirely destroyed. The Wm. H. Pringle was a large, powerful tug, built at Saginaw, Mich., in 1871, of 213 tons, and commanded by W. H. Littleton. The loss is estimated at $7,000.