Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Great Bonsecours Market Fire...

I have never written about this, but it is a vivid recollection I have of the 30th of July, as we were tied up near old Montreal. A ship was transiting the seaway, outbound from Montreal. As she approached our position, she lost steerage way. Whether she suffered a total loss of steering is unknown. What I do know is that she was bearing down on HMCS Protecteur, a large naval supply ship filled with fuel, avgas (JP-5), munitions, etc... Her master must have been in quite a state. She sounded her whistle and fired flares into the air, as a warning to Protecteur and ourselves to brace for shock.

It was one of these very flares, which landed on the cupola of Bonsecours Market and set it alight. For all the concern that this emergency generated, the master eventually regained control of his vessel, before it collided with Protecteur. I'm sure the radio logs onboard Protecteur and the OOD/Duty Cox'n logs from each respective ship, still bear the entries describing this event. I seem to recall the ship being a cargo vessel of Greek registry, though it's name escapes me at the moment. I do not know if the authorities in Montreal ever determined the cause of this blaze, as I never saw it published anywhere. But as for myself and the others who were onboard ship that day, we certainly know what caused the Great Bonsecours Fire of summer, '76.


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