May 25, 1912: Fire!

–recollection of Charles Wright, published in “Silas:  The Antarctic Diaries and Memoir of Charles S. Wright”–

“I wanted some heat for a hut I had put together of large boxes whose outside walls and roof were of very heavy tarred paper. . .The primus was designed to be lit with a match without the use each time of external heating the orifice by methylated spirits.  It had a pressure gauge with a red mark and a pointer to indicate the pressure when the hand pump was operated.  To cut a long story short, the pressure gauge stayed obstinately immobile so I thought it would be wise to give this up as a bad job.

“But Nelson, who was next to me at the large table in the hut, evidently thought this was a cowardly attitude on my part, grabbed the contraption and pumped away at a furious rate until the body of the lamp burst and blazing oil poured over the table and on to the floor.

“The shout  ‘FIRE’ brought all hands to the rescue and it was only a short time before the fire was smothered by handy blankets, etc. grabbed up from nearby beds.  My bed was quite far away, beyond the pianola, so my blankets were not required; but I did notice how, in spite of the the excitement, everyone was careful to take the blankets from someone else’s bed and not from his own.”

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