New York, NY Ocean Liner ARIEL Fire, Sept 1908

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LIGHTER [sic] AFIRE; SINKS.

Burning Paraffin Cargo Endangers Liner Slavonia and Mail Boat.

Through the burning of a cargo of paraffin on the lighter Ariel yesterday afternoon the Cunard liner Slavonia and the mail carrier Postmaster General were menaced by fire. The lighter had been moored along the north side of Pier 51 North River. On the south side of the same pier the Etruria is lying, and the 394 bags of paraffin had been taken from the steamer and placed on the lighter.

The Ariel, with her load, was ready to be shifted, when one of the men noticed that the craft was on fire. A warning was shouted, and preparations made to get the vessel out into the stream, but the flames spread so rapidly that before this could be done the flames were licking the side of the steamship pier, and the three laborers on board had to scramble off for their lives.

The Postmaster General was lying in front of the lighter and nearer the river. Opposite, across the slip, lay the Slavonia. As soon as the fire was discovered distress whistles were blown, and a tug, shifting a float, dropped her charge and ran in to get a line on the lighter. By that time the flames were shooting and for a brief time it looked as though the pier was doomed.

The Cunard employes[sic] got ready their own fire-fighting apparatus, but before they could do anything the men on the lighter and the tug managed to get a line fast to the blazing Ariel and towed her out into the stream.

Guiding the lighter out between the two vessels was a difficult task, and once the burring boat swung over dangerously near the Slavonia. The fireboats George B. McClellan and the New Yorker came to the Ariel's assistance, and though they put the fire out, the vessel was so badly damaged that she was towed to the Jersey shore, where she sank in the shallow water of Baxter flats. The loss is $25,000.

The Ariel is owned by Hazel S. Waller of 29 Broadway.

The cause of the fire is unknown.

The New York Times, New York, NY 22 Sept 1908