Coal and Sparks shooting out of the Funnels

Kyle Naber

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Oct 5, 2016
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I think there was either sparks from gyrations from the collapse of the funnel itself, sparks from the break, or ignition of coal dust in the uptakes.
 

Ada

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Dec 8, 2018
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Well, I wasn't of course there but I'm pretty certain we would be dealing with an implosion rather than an explosion, followed by a fireball. The sparks visible from outside could be the "remnants" of the fireball that erupted below.

We do have eye-witness accounts of later steam shipwrecks that describe exactly such a sequence of events when cold water floods the boilers. I'll post a link to a part of an interview with a survivor of the SS Carl D.Bradley, where he describes this during the sinking of his ship:

 

Doug Criner

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Dec 2, 2009
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When the throttles are suddenly shut for a coal-fired steam boiler, there will be upset conditions that result in unburned fuel coming into the stack. That could well account for the visible sparks, etc.