Alarming Fire near Port Dundas, 1865

type: Safety - fires

The Glasgow Daily Herald
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Alarming Fire near Port Dundas

Man Burned to death

Yesterday afternoon, about half-past one o'clock, an alarming fire broke out in the premises of the British Asphalte Company, asphalte manufacturers, and distillers of tar and mineral oil, &c., situate at 88 Stirling Street, Port-Dundas. The fire was occasioned by the bursting of a still containing shale oil, situated to the North of the works; and immediately caught after the oil, which flowed into the furnace, lofted and blazed with great fury.

To the south of the works is situated the extensive soap manufactory of Messrs. James Parker & Co., and when the Northern and Central Fire Brigades arrived the soap works were in imminent danger. By the exertions of the firemen, however, the flames were prevented from spreading to the factory; and the large stock of oils in the yard, forming part of the premises of the Asphalte Company, was similarly preserved. Although a plentiful supply of water was at hand it was of no use, previous experiences having proved that water thrown upon burning oil only causes the flames to spread; and on this occasion, had the hose been brought to play upon the fire, the flames would, in all probability, have extended to the soap works, and caused a greater destruction of property.

When the bursting took place, a worker named John M'Gown, 60 years of age, residing in Rumford Street, Bridgeton, was knocked down in front of one of the furnaces, and rendered insensible by the gases which escaped from the still. Although the workmen knew where the poor man was lying – against a quantity of coal – it was impossible to render any assistance, as any attempt to remove him might have been attended with fatal consequences. As soon as the brigades arrived, a branchman was stationed on the wall on the west side of Port-Dundas Road, and when the floating oil ignited the coals where M'Gown lay the branch was brought to play upon them, and by this means the body of the unfortunate man was saved from being quite consumed.

As it was, however, his head and part of one of his legs were fearfully charred. The body was recovered about five o'clock, by which time the fire was considerably spent. Deceased has left a widow and three of a family. As we have already stated, the fire raged with terrific fury, shortly after its outbreak, and continued till nearly four o'clock. About half-past three the flames ascended to a height of fully fifty feet, and at this time fears were entertained for the safety of the chimney stalk, situated in the centre of the works. Dense volumes of black smoke ascended from the burning oil, and at times no parts of the works or stalk were visible. There are five or six stills in the premises, but those situated to the west of the one which gave way were saved; the oil, however, which the stills and tanks at the east side of the factory contained, was all consumed. We have not learned the cause of the accident; but it is supposed that too much gas has generated within the still, and the bursting was the result.

The value of oil destroyed has not as yet been ascertained, but we are informed that the damage will amount to upwards of £600. The stock destroyed, it is said, is not insured. At five o'clock last night all danger was at an end, although the oil contained in the still which burst continued to burn. Firemen were left in charge of the premises. The dense volumes of smoke, which were blown over the city in a south-westerly direction, attracted such large crowds to the scene of the conflagration that Superintendent M'Farlane, of the Northern District, deemed it necessary to call out a number of night constables to assist the day officers in keeping the spectators out of danger

The Glasgow Daily Herald, 30th November 1865