• Short Summary

    Two firemen died and eight were taken to hospital in a blaze in underground stores at Smithfield Market today.

  • Description

    Two firemen died and eight were taken to hospital in a blaze in underground stores at Smithfield Market today.

    More than 100 firemen fought the blaze. First-aid posts were set up and ambulances sent in. About 20 men were given on-the-spot treatment.

    Six hours after the blaze started the fire was still not under control. One fireman said: "I have been in the Fire Brigade for eleven years and it is the worst I have experienced."
    Billowing smoke got thicker and thicker. It poured into the great London Central Market immediately above it and it had to be closed.

    Conditions in the vast labyrinth of storerooms and passages were so difficult that firemen - wearing breathing apparatus could stay below ground for only ten minutes at a time. The men were tied to one another with lifelines.

    The two who died were Station Officer F. Fortwell and Fireman R.Stocking, both of Clerkenwell Fire Station. A desperate hunt for them began when it was discovered they were missing in the early stages of the outbreak, which was discovered at 2.18 a.m.

    The fire was in the basement of the Union Cold Storage Company. Firemen with walkie-talkie equipment directed the operation. At 7.30 a.m., five hours after the outbreak, radio calls were still being sent out to Brigade Headquarters for relief men and breathing apparatus.

    A senior fire officer said: "We have no idea of the geography or the size of the rabbit warren down below. Only four of my men, working in pairs, are able to get anywhere near the fire. It is surrounded by wooden cases of poultry stacked from floor to ceiling. It is really a race against time," he added. "The entire hall below has been impregnated with fat over the years."
    Firemen were going down from three street entrances. The flames were about 70 feet in from the nearest point.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    Media URN:
    Reuters - Source to be Verified
    Issue Date:
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Black & White
    Time in/Out:

Comments (0)

We always welcome comments and more information about our films.
All posts are reactively checked. Libellous and abusive comments are forbidden.

Add your comment