VLAARDINGEN - In an accident in the center of Vlaardingen today five firefighters killed. The victims were sitting in a fire truck, which was en route to an oil fire at the Queen Wilhelmina Harbor. Fire smoke deprived of sight of the driver, which so drove into the burning water. Only one of the passengers survived the accident.

The accident in Vlaardingen is the biggest fire disaster in Dutch history.

The fire started around half past eleven at the Queen Wilhelmina Harbor. The water in the harbor was actually -as almost always- soiled with mud and oil. In Figee firm was one of welding. Possibly one of the sparks landed in the dirt in the water. In no time there was a big fire originated. Due to the strong wind the fire hit on to Figee, the tug Frederica S. and some more posts.

Shortly the fire alarm sounded at the brand new fire station at the Hoflaan. Moments later arrived six volunteer firefighters who had to take place in one of the fire trucks.

Firefighters killed in Vlaardingen. Photographer: Van Duinen, National Archives / Anefo. License: Public Domain

smoke development

In Wilhelminahaven Meanwhile, the first fire trucks on site. First the volunteer fire came from Vlaardingen, followed by teams from Schiedam and Rotterdam.

The hard southwesterly the smoke to the northeast corner of the quay blown. That was also the place where most emergency gathered, as a large group of curious. They saw that the driver of Gereedschapwagen III could not brake in time and disappeared with his car in the smoke.

"They heard a dull thud, when the car pulled out of the slope and half in the water, half on a floating pontoon that landed. There was the terrible screams of the passengers, which have tried to free himself from the car and the fire and thereby fell on the water surface in the burning oil. " (Vrije Volk, 10 februari 1951)

Firefighters were already on site came into action. One of the passengers had managed to jump out of the car at the last minute. He landed in the burning water, but alive. With severe burns he received by his colleagues and taken to hospital.

According to eyewitnesses, the man was, the commander, only stammer 'boys, de jongens’, pointing to the men who sat in the back of the car.

The five men in the fire truck could not move on. Because of outside help were rescued from the car, two men, but the help came too late for them.

“Aan de haven, rond de plek waar de loeiende oliebrand gewoed had, stonden nog tot laat in de middag nieuwsgierigen. Een uitgebrande auto op de weg langs de haven, de zwart-geblakerde helling, a broken lantern and jumped half charred piers were as silent witnesses of this terrible accident ". (De Tijd, 10-02-1951)

Klap

The deaths of five firefighters provides a huge emotional blow for the locals. The five volunteers, a carpenter, a bricklayer, an electrician and two carpenters, were the heart of society.

The bodies were laid out in the fire station to the Hoflaan. To our knowledge this is the largest disaster in the history of the Dutch fire brigade. Never before have there while five firefighters killed in an accident.

The funeral is scheduled for 13 februari, next Tuesday. It is expected that firefighters from the Netherlands (and possibly beyond) will attend the service at the cemetery Emaus.


Hoe ging het verder?

Vlaardingen was still in mourning when on 13 februari 1951 held the funeral of five firefighters. The audience stands rows deep along the side. Numerous firefighters also walk in the procession, even in Belgium.

Firefighters have up to the funeral formed a guard of honor at the fire station to the Hoflaan. At the time of the funeral all the bells of Vlaardingen, of leaving the Hoflaan, until arrival at Emaus.

The oil fire in Vlaardingen is commemorated every five years.

In the oil fire in Vlaardingen died: Albert Maat, Herman Westdijk, Piet Batenburg, Piet van Delft and Mar Cook. Jo Baars, the commander, survived the accident.

 

Funeral five firefighters killed in Vlaardingen. 13 februari 1951. Photographer: Van Duinen, National Archives / Anefo. License: Public Domain

 

 

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