AFTER four days of burning, the fire on India in Southampton’s docks had been brought under control.

Combustion occurred among 3,000 tons of sunflower seed intended for cattle fodder stored in one of her holds.

The blaze was first detected through blistering of paintwork on the ship’s starboard plating on Friday Saturday 15, 1947, as she made her up the English Channel on a voyage from Buenos Aires.

Neither the ship’s twelve passengers nor the pilot who berthed her were aware of anything abnormal until they saw fire fighting appliances waiting for them on the quayside at No.36 Berth.

The National Fire Service had been summoned by a radio signal, at which point they scrambled to meet at the dockside.

An examination of India began, taking fire officers through the bulwarks of the hold and the ship’s engine room.

It didn’t take long for them to confirm there was undoubtedly a blaze in the cargo.

A further examination on Saturday evening disclosed that heat from the hold was increasing and it was decided holes would be bored into the hold from the engine room and carbon dioxide pumped in to deaden the smouldering fire.

On Sunday morning the decision was made to move India from 36 berth, where she was against wooden dock buildings.

On the Monday it was discovered that in despite of the precautionary measures taken, heat in the hold had still increased, making it impossible for stevedores to work the hold.

In light of this discovery, two more holes were made and, using two-inch hoses, engines pumped in 100,000 gallons of water to flood the cargo to a depth of eight feet.

A further inspection revealed that had worked in lessening the temperature, and it was decided to attempt the opening of the hatches and the salvaging of the cargo on the Tuesday.

The cargo for Southampton was 22,000 cases of pears - which were then unloaded by Southampton’s stevedores.

Among the passengers was Dr Rieffolo Bessone, who was the Argentine Minister to Denmark.

Built in 1930 at Nakskov, Denmark, the India was a motor ship with four masts, but no funnel - exhaust tubes were instead incorporated in her third mast.

The India was making her first visit to Southampton since the Second World War. When the Germans overran Denmark, the vessel was in Copenhagen harbour where she remained throughout the war. She resumed activities in August 1945.