New Jersey Pier Faces Fire Break out – 06/30/1900

US History |


Four german boats caught fire at the docks in the Hoboken in New Jersey. This happened on the 30th of June the year 1990. The fire killed more than 300 people and was so large that it could be seen by literally every resident of New York City. It was a normal working afternoon for William Northmaid. Northmaid was working as a watchman on pier 3 in the Hoboken docks when he spotted the fire. This was just a few minutes before 4pm. There was a strong wind that played a big part in spreading the fire, the other fact was that the old wooden pier was always at a risk of catching fire because there were wood fuel filled cargo shed nearby. These two factors contributed to the fire spreading first. The ship named Saale caught fire and started drifting in the Hudson river, this happened before even the Hoboken Fire Department could respond. The sad fact was that most of the workers on Saale did not know how to swim and most died as they tried to escape the fire. 

The next ship to catch the flames of destruction was Bremen. More than 100 survivors were got from the Bremen vessel after Nettie Tice, which was one of the tugboats was sent to take the bigger water vessels off the flaming dock, other tugs were quickly called to assist in saving the lives of people. The tugs that provided assistance were Kaiser, Wilhelm der Grosse. Grosse happened to be the flagship of Northern Germany Lloyd shipping company. The big ship had tourists from abroad enjoying the weekend treat,the captain was able to keep both the crew members and the tourists calm. He helped in getting the people off safely into the tug boats. The tug boats, then took the ship to the Manhattan side of the Hudson away from the burning deck. Workers continued working hard trying to release another ship by the name Main from the dock. Unfortunately the ship caught fire just before they could release it, and this caused the death of 44 crew members. Many died because the pot holes were made too small for anyone to escape through them. The rescuers could only watch as the crew members died and the boat perished in smoke and flames. Main finally broke loose from the pier and like Bremen it drifted to the Weehawken flats. The two ship burned together in the river. 15 crew members were later rescued from the Main. The 15 had managed to stay alive by hiding in an empty coal bunker on the ship that was able to protect them from the fire. 

The fire was so great that 27 boats caught fire by the evening of that fateful day, and the fire from the pier was able to reach the shores. The Hoboken Warehouse and Campbells Store were burned to the ground by the raging flames. When the fire was finally put out between 325 to 400 people had lost their lives and property worth $4 million had been destroyed. Many people were also missing. The piers are now made of steel to avoid similar incidents.

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