The fire in Galerny Ostrovok yard which destroyed the cruiser Vitiaz

from NIVA, # 23, 1901.

The fire started about 14:00 Hrs on June 01 at GALERNI OSTROVOK yard, St. Petersburg. By that time VITIAZ (40 per cent complete - I.S.) was located in a wooden covered slip surrounded by wooden scaffolds. Another building of stone covered slip housed OREL (she was launched a year later- I.S.) , the distance between both slips was not more than 100 feet. ( PALLADA launched 2 years previously was almost completed and moored nearby - I.S.) About 2 000 people were on site that day. In addition, numerous naval warehouses with great amount of food and coal supplies were in the area.

The fire started when the VITIAZ workers returned from lunch and resumed their work. Some of them tried to start the furnace filled with coal located on the foreside of the ship. Suddenly by 'an unknown reason' the furnace dropped down, scattering the burning coals on the wooden scaffolds setting them on fire. Soon the whole slip was ablaze. The flame expanded to the reverting workshop and a two-floor office building where drawings and documentation were kept. The window frames and the wooden scaffolds inside the OREL slip caught also the fire. Soon VITIAZ turned into a huge lump of melted steel.

The main task of the fire fighting teams was to contain the fire and to save OREL and PALLADA, the latter was let drifting downstream. OREL did not get serious damages either.

But all naval food supplies of oats and flour burned down. Due to high temperature thousands of sacks with oats exploded showering burning grains upon the hospital carriages of the Red Cross which had to be pushed into water for safety. The fire resulted in several losses of life, many wounded with nine food warehouses, huge amount of timber and the bridge between the two islands totally destroyed by the fire. However the naval stocks of many hundreds of thousand tons of coal were saved.

[ The article is supplied with three very good photos featuring the remains of VITIAZ (a heap of disfigured metal structures ) with PALLADA at the background and the slip with OREL on the left side, a burnt down reverting workshop near VITIAZ and a huge mountain of burnt oats and flour (mixed with water the flour turned into dough ).]

My thanks to Igor Sarmentov for this translation ; any notes labelled 'I.S.' are his additions/explanations to the text in Neva