Alan W. Butler, 37, structural fire fighter, saved Borden A. Tuell, 64, master mariner, from burning and an explosion, Newport, Rhode Island, August 7, 1958. In a heavy fog in Narragansett Bay a tank ship piloted by Tuell collided with a tanker carrying gasoline, causing an explosion which set both ships afire as they went aground some distance apart. Tuell and five other men made their way to the bow where, after starting a pump which quenched the flames on that part of the deck and dropping the anchor, the five men entered the water and made their way 75 feet to shore. Tuell, too badly burned to follow, remained on the ship. Butler, with others on shore, shot a line to Tuell, who fastened it about himself and the railing so that the men holding the other end could lower him into the water. As they attempted to do so, Tuell’s attire became entangled about the railing, suspending him against the side of the ship. Butler volunteered to remove Tuell from the danger of spreading flames or an explosion of gasoline fumes. After disrobing to underwear and socks, he waded and swam to the anchor chain at the opposite side of the bow from Tuell. With difficulty he climbed vertically 25 feet on the chain, which was uncomfortably warm, and reached the opening of the hawsepipe from which it hung. Butler, who was of slight build, then entered the 18 inch pipe and climbed 10 feet farther along the chain, emerging onto the deck. Flames rose 20 feet above the stern area of the ship as Butler ran across the bow deck to Tuell and freed him. Butler remained on deck as the firemen fed the line from shore and lowered Tuell into a boat. Returning to the hawsepipe, Butler descended the anchor chain and swam back to shore. Tuell suffered severe burns, and Butler sustained cuts and bruises. They recovered. Only seven of the 38 men aboard the tank ship escaped death or injury.
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