Sunday, March 28, 2010

That "F" word raises its ugly head again.

One of the worst disasters in Glasgow's history was the fire that broke out in Cheapside Street in the Anderston area of the city on March 28, 1960.
Fire and smoke billowed up into the night sky and was visible for miles around.
A total of 14 members of the Glasgow Fire Service and five men from the Glasgow Salvage Corps lost their lives fighting the blaze.
The fire started in a bonded warehouse that contained over a million gallons of whisky and rum. Within minutes of the firefighters arriving at the scene there was a massive explosion literally blowing the building apart.
The firemen and three appliances were buried in masonry.
As the fire spread it engulfed the tobacco warehouse, an ice cream factory and the Harland and Wolff engine works.
Fed by a huge lake of whisky, the fire took a week to extinguish completely.
Apart from the volatile nature of the liquid what made the fire dangerous to fight was the location of the building itself. The streets around the warehouse were very narrow and made it difficult for the emergency teams to get close enough to tackle the fire effectively.
Much criticism was later laid on the siting of the whisky warehouse in such a built-up area.
But nobody who remembers that night will ever forget one of Glasgow's most harrowing tragedies of the 20th century.

I was 17 in 1960. I had almost forgotten, until I saw it on TV last night, but one of my mother's older brothers ( Jim Crosbie ) was the Salvage Corps Fire Chief in Glasgow's Albion Street and was in attendance at that infamous night in Cheapside Street.
The loss of life suffered by the brave men of the Fire service that night was a nightmare. Uncle Jim survived this trauma but who knows what horrors he witnessed in Cheapside Street ?
Perhaps significantly, not long after, he upped sticks & took the family off to a new life in Australia ?

Those of you who read my blog from time to time will know, or may remember, that I also lost my old Dad to the after effects of a house fire. ( See October 21, 2009 OMG ,, not again ! )
He and his lady friend ( mum had died many years previously ) were overcome whilst trying to make their escape and died horrendous deaths from the effects of "smoke inhalation" some long weeks later.
This was the same Dad who made a heroic effort many years previously to save our little female child next door neighbour when she was caught in the middle of an inferno of her night clothes & long hair .,., Throwing her onto a carpet runner he ripped from our lobby floor, he wrapped her in it and beat the flames with his bare hands, but alas to no avail .,., this poor little soul too died some weeks later.
What an awful way to go ,,,

This past week my little grandson was suddenly inconsolable when out of the blue and sobbing he asked his mum ,, " Who'll hug me mummy when you die !"
This set me too thinking about death, hence the above memories surfacing yet again.

Are we, as a family I wonder, susceptable or prone to fire hazards ?
Oh God I hope not ,, if ever there was a way I DON'T want to die ....
Surely this can't be the case ?
I know that mastering the ability to make a fire is what separates us from the animals, but, I do worry, we've had more than our fair share of run-ins with this dreaded foe.

1 comment:

Alistair said...

I read this post a couple of days back Scudder and wanted to comment, but to be honest was at a complete loss as to what to say. Coming back now I find I'm in that same place again.

I think when you're confronted with fear, or like here, surprised by the recurring memory, it does make you stop short and reflect on some things beyond the ken of normal life.

The good thing about those kind of fears, if there is anything, is that they perhaps tend us to be more cautious, more diligent in avoiding their possibility and also make it very likely that it's also transferred on to our next generation and so hopefully offers a degree of protection there too.

I hope so anyway.