The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 24 Sep 1907

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The storm of Monday night tied up several boats around the harbor.

The schooner Lizzie Metzner has arrived at Wolfe Island from Oswego with coal.

The steamer Alexandria called at Folger's on Monday night, on its regular down trip.

The steamer Picton was 170 feet long, full canal size in the old days. Her beam was 28 feet, overguards 40 feet.

At Richardsons' elevator the sloop Maggie L. is being loaded with grain for Glenora, and the sloop Laura B. is being loaded with grain for Napanee.

The rough weather of Monday afternoon prevented the work of unloading the scow, which ran against the rocks at Point Frederick. Another attempt will be made as soon as the storm is over.

Swift's: Steamer Toronto down and up today; steamer Hamilton up tonight; steamyacht Irene with fishing party for bay ports; schooner Clara from Sodus; schooner Metzner from Sodus at Wolfe Island.

M.T. Co. elevator: Tug Glide up, two light barges; tug Jessie Hall cleared for Montreal with three grain barges; steamer Iroquois loaded with grain arrives today from Fort William; steamer Fairmount and consort, with grain, due tonight from Fort William.

The Richelieu & Ontario Navigation company officials estimate that the total loss, by Saturday's fire, on the steamer Picton, will be $100,000. This is fully covered by insurance in Lloyds of New York. Capt. Donnelly, Kingston, has been appointed to appraise the loss on the hull.

p.4 Picton, Sept. 24th - Capt. Dulmage, the well known master of the steam barge Waterlily, had a very narrow escape from fatal injury in an accident at Charlotte, N.Y. The Waterlily was loading a cargo of coal at the shutes and the captain was standing on the elevated railroad, when one of the cars crashed into him, knocking him over. He fell about six feet, when he caught on the lower trestle. Had he not landed where he did he would have fallen sixty feet and probably been fatally injured. A broken left arm is the only tell-tale of the accident.



Oswego, Sept. 24th - Smouldering flames in the boiler room of the steamer Ringleader, a 250 ton freight boat from Alexandria Bay, yesterday, swept up through the center of the boat and partially destroyed the pilot house. The fire in the steamer, tied up at the dock near the lower bridge in Oswego river, was put out by the aid of pumps aboard and the chemical engine of the fire department. Damage to the amount of about $100 was caused.

When the firemen arrived at the dock huge clouds of smoke were billowing from the boiler room and pilot house. In spite of the intense heat and smoke Engineer Charles Woods stuck to his post and kept the pumps at work. Reinforced by hose from the chemical engine the flames were soon under control.

On board the boat were five men and one woman. The Ringleader is owned and sailed by Capt. F.E. Woods. Regular trips for the conveyance of freight are made between this port, the Thousand Islands and Canada. On board were 100 fruit barrels consigned to Henderson Bay. The fire is thought to have started from waste material in the engine room.

Incidents of the Day - The steamer Ames arrived from Fort William at noon, today, with a cargo of flour, on her way to Montreal.

The Rideau Lakes Navigation company has chartered the steamer John Randall for the carrying of freight. She will leave Swift's wharf Thursday morning at 5 a.m. for Smith's Falls, and Monday morning for Ottawa at the same hour. James Swift & Co., agent.


Burning Oil And Grease Caused Fire To Spread.

[Toronto Globe]

It was James Kane, an engine cleaner, who set fire to the steamer Picton, on Saturday afternoon, when George Kleskie and Miss Minnie Hatch lost their lives, and a property loss of nearly one hundred thousand dollars was caused. Before Coroner R.J. Wilson at the inquest in the police court, last night, Kane told how he had happened to start the fire that caused the destruction of the Richelieu & Ontario Navigation company's steamer. His evidence was brief and dramatic.

"I had just came on board the boat," he said, "on my return from my boarding house, 86 Sherbourne street, and went below again, with the object of filling my torch, which I knew was nearly empty, and would be needed on the trip. It was lighted, and just as soon as I turned on the tap of the barrel there was a flare, and, my hand being burned, I had to drop the torch on the floor. I turned off the tap again and quickly called for water. The fire was so rapid that presently I was enveloped in flames, and it was all that I could do to get to the deck and to the wharf."

Kane was engaged at the noon hour before the fire as a cleaner, and while filling his torch at a coal oil barrel in the engine room the flame came in conduct with the tap and the fire resulted. The man claimed that everything happened so quickly that it was impossible to render any assistance to those on board or save the boat from great damage. Kleskie, according to the crew of the boat, met his death in a heroic effort to render assistance to any on the steamer, and Miss Hatch was overcome in her cabin below, where she was found dead. The jury found that Kleskie came to his death by suffocation, and that the fire was caused accidently by Kane, who, they said, was an inexperienced hand. The Richelieu and Ontario Navigation company was, however, censured for alleged neglect in failing to enforce discipline in the use of the boat's fire-fighting apparatus.

Kane, whose evidence came as a great surprise even to the coroner, told his story frankly in such a way as to impress everybody that he appreciated the terrible consequences of his carelessness in filling the lighted torch. The man told of giving the alarm and trying to get water to extinguish the flames, which got beyond his control and spread rapidly.

Kane gave his evidence in rather a disjointed way, but from the questioning of Crown Attorney Drayton it was elicited that he had taken his torch to the coal oil barrel which was in the engine room, and which contained about seven gallons of oil. He thougthlessly kept the torch lit, and when he attempted to fill it at the barrel the oil tap ignited. Some of the burning liquid went on Kane, and he dropped the torch to the floor, where the burning oil naturally spread. Kane claimed that he turned the tap off, but that some of the oil had fallen on the floor, where there was also some grease. Realizing what had happened Kane called for a pail of water, but nobody came with it. Then, he states, the whole boat seemed to be lit up with the fire, and to save his own life he was compelled to make for the upper deck. First, however, he ran to the engineer's room, but not finding him there, he rushed out onto the wharf to give the fire alarm. By this time a line of hose was attached to a little engine, and was being played in the fire, by the second engineer and steward, who were quickly driven back. Another was being got in readiness by the second mate, Barry Sullivan of Cornwall, when they had to beat a retreat and abandon the boat to the flames.

Captain C.E. Redfern and members of the crew described to the jury the precautions taken by the company to prevent the outbreak and spread of a fire. More was done than was required by the government inspectors, who inspected the boat in the spring and found her seaworthy. Twenty hands were sufficient to man all the pumps, but there were thirty-five on the boat. All the equipment was in good order and the men were thoroughly drilled. Everybody was on duty near the boat at the time of the fire. Nothing of an inflammable nature was permitted near the engine or boiler rooms. Captain Redfern believed that had the fire not broken out near the engine better progress might have been made in fighting the flames.

The chief officials of the Richelieu company, after a conference lasting all day yesterday, decided to abandon the steamer to the underwriters, which means that she will not be rebuilt. The steamer was insured with Lloyds for $50,000, and there is a standing insurance carried on her cargo on each trip of $25,000. No loss will be sustained by any of the firms who shipped by the boat, as the company has already decided to make good any damage done.

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24 Sep 1907
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 24 Sep 1907