• Short Summary

    The biggest fire in the history of Table Bay almost completely destroyed the pre-cooling sheds in the Duncan and Victoria Docks on Wednesday, January 29, 1958.

  • Description

    The biggest fire in the history of Table Bay almost completely destroyed the pre-cooling sheds in the Duncan and Victoria Docks on Wednesday, January 29, 1958.

    Damage to the buildings alone is estimated at over GBP1,000,000 while farmers fear their losses through damage to the pre-cooling sheds will be enormous. The value of their fruit crop still to be exported is estimated at GBP9,500,000.

    Two ships in the South Arm, the Swedish liner Cumulus and the Clan Davidson, were carrying explosives in their cargo and tugs raced to tow them away when the fire broke out.

    Described as the "gravest disaster in the history of the Union's perishable export trade", the blaze destroyed 20 years of development. It was officially stated after the fire that no more export fruit would be accepted at Table Bay Docks until further notice.

    A senior official of the Perishible Products Control Board estimated that about GBP60,000 worth of fruit was damaged in the sheds.

    Firemen were hampered in their attempts to fight the blaze by ammonia escaping from the cooling chambers.

    Seamen on board the ships leant over the side and trained hoses on the blaze. Others doused the sides of their ships as they became hot with the blaze which burned only a few yards away.

    Dock labourers and members of the public ran to the blazing sheds to salvage what they could. They rolled out oil drums, bales and wooden cases but it was impossible to save much.

    "This is the greatest tragedy that has ever struck Western Province fruit growers, and, in fact, may be a national disaster", said Mr. Charles Hoatlie, Chairman of De Wit Co-operative, after the fire.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    VLVAC50P6UHCWZKDX3RUS6XY1O85X
    Media URN:
    VLVAC50P6UHCWZKDX3RUS6XY1O85X
    Group:
    Reuters - Source to be Verified
    Archive:
    Reuters
    Issue Date:
    29/01/1958
    Sound:
    Unknown
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Stock:
    Black & White
    Duration:
    00:01:13:00
    Time in/Out:
    /
    Canister:
    N/A

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