National Fire Service Day is observed every year on April 14 to remember the 71 firemen who lost their lives fighting the fire that took place at freighter SS Fort Stikine at the Victoria Dock in the then Bombay Port on April 14, 1944. The explosion led to the killing of hundreds of people including the firemen. It also caused extensive damage to the ships. To remember those brave men who lost their lives fighting the fire, the day is observed nationally every year.
More details about the explosion:
The Bombay Explosion of 1944 occurred when the freighter SS Fort Stikine carrying a mixed cargo of cotton bales, gold and ammunition including around 1400 tons of explosives caught fire and was destroyed in two giant blasts, scattering debris, sinking surrounding ships and setting fire to the area killing around 800 to 1300 people. Some 80,000 people were made homeless and 71 firemen lost their lives in the aftermath.
The in-depth analysis of the incident:
In the mid-afternoon around 14:00, the crew were alerted to a fire onboard burning somewhere in the No.2 hold. The crew, dockside fire teams and fireboats were unable to extinguish the fire despite pumping over 900 tons of water into the ship, nor were they able to find the source due to the dense smoke. The water was boiling all over the ship, due to heat generated by the fire. At 15:50 the order to abandon the ship was given and sixteen minutes later there was a great explosion, cutting the ship in two and breaking windows over 12 km away. Sensors recorded that the Earth trembled at Shimla, a city over 1700 km away. The shower of burning material set fire to slums in the area. Eleven neighbouring vessels had been sunk or were sinking and the emergency personnel at the site suffered heavy losses. Attempts to fight the fire were dealt a further blow when the second explosion from the ship swept the area at 16:34. Burning cotton bales fell from the sky on docked ships, the dock yard and slum areas outside the harbour. The sound of explosions was heard as far as 80 km away. Some of the most developed and economically important parts of Bombay were wiped out by the blast and resulting fire.