Fireman Details How Flames Broke Out In Coal Bunkers After Leaving Southampton and Steamship Was Rushed Westward So That Blaze Might Be Extinguished in New York Port.
Ships Coal Was Afire
The story told by J. Dilley was as follows:
I was assigned to the Titanic from the Oceanic, where I had served as a Fireman. From the day we sailed the Titanic was on fire, and my sole duty, together with eleven other men, had been to fight that fire. We had made no headway against it.
Of course the passengers knew nothing of the fire. It started in bunker No. 6. There were hundreds of tons of coal stored there. The coal on top of the bunker was wet, as all of the coal should have been, but down at the bottom of the bunker the coal was dry. The coal at the bottom of the bunker took fire, and smouldered for days. The wet coal on top kept the flames from coming through, but down in the bottom of the bunker the flames were raging.
Stokers Fight the Flames
Two men from each watch of stokers was tolled off to fight that fire. The stokers, you know, work four hours at a time, so 12 of us was fighting the flames from the day we put out of Southampton till we hit the iceberg.
No, sir, we didnt get that fire out. And among the stokers there was talk that we would have to empty the coal bunkers after we put our passengers off in New York and then call the fireboats there to help us put out the fire.
But we didnt nee such help. It was right under bunker No. 6 that the iceberg tore the biggest hole in the Titanic, and the flood that came through the Titanic put out the fire that our tons and tons of water hadnt been able to get rid of.
Told to Shut Mouths
The stokers were beginning to get alarmed over it, but the officers told us to keep our mouths shut. They didnt want to alarm the passengers.
Another fireman said that because of the fire the ship sank more rapidly than otherwise would have been the case.
It had been necessary to take the coal out of sections two and three on the starboard side forward, he said, And when the water came rushing in after the collision the bulkheads would not hold because they did not have the supporting weight of the coal.
Somebody reported to Chief Engineer Bell that the forward bulkhead had given way and he replied: My God, we are lost.
Hearing Adjourns to Capital
The Committee ended the taking of testimony in New York and adjourned to meet in Washington.
Related Biographies:Joseph Bell
Christopher Arthur Shulver