From the Back Cover
A boat full of explosives headed in to the harbour as a large cargo ship steamed out to sea. What happened next, on a fateful day in December 1917, is etched in history. At least 1900 people lost their lives and 9000 were injured when the largest man-made explosion ever experienced ripped through Halifax and nearby Dartmouth. Panic reigned as the survivors struggled to comprehend what had happened.
About the Author
Joyce Glasner lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her Articles on gardening, travel, and the arts have appeared in a variety of publications. Her first book, The Halifax Explosion: Surviving the Blast that Shook a Nation was published by Altitude in 2003.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Prologue Billy Wells jammed the gas pedal to the floor and squeezed the horn as they flew by a team of Clydesdales pulling a wagon loaded with barrels. Driving "Patricia,"" the station's new motorized fire truck, at top speed through the city was the most thrilling experience of the 20-year-old firefighter's life. "Take it easy Billy!" Chief Cordon shouted, his words barely audible over the clanging bells and roaring engine. The column of black smoke billowing high above the harbour looked ominous. Billy had never seen anything quite like it. He couldn't imagine the inferno that would produce that amount of smoke. They arrived at the wharf to see a blazing freighter butted up against Pier 6. Multicoloured flames shot from the ship's deck high into the sky. Fire had spilled from its bow down onto the wharf, igniting the surrounding buildings. The heat from the blaze was so intense that the men had to shield their faces. Just as the firefighters on the back leaped from the truck and began unrolling the hose, the earth shuddered violently. Billy felt himself being ripped from the driver's seat and catapulted through the air. The next thing he knew, he was quite a distance from the fire engine. Before he had a chance to move, he was swept up in a massive tidal wave. The tremendous force of the wave drove him along for hundreds of metres before slamming him against a telephone pole. When the water receded, Billy lay in a heap at the foot of the pole. Shrapnel began raining down around him, and a greasy black substance began falling from the sky. When it was all over, he struggled to his feet and looked around in disbelief. He was halfway up the hill of Fort Needham, on the opposite side of the street from the wharf. He felt a throbbing pain in his right arm and looked down to discover Patricia's steering wheel gripped in his right hand. In a daze, he staggered through the wreckage back to Pier 6. The fire truck was upside down, several metres from where it had been parked. The shiny new vehicle was now nothing more than a twisted piece of junk. Scattered around the wreck were a few of the lifeless bodies of his fellow firefighters; the rest were nowhere in sight.