Early on Monday a passenger steamer, the 'Iona,' of the
Edinburgh Shipping Company, caught fire while off Clacton The fire began in the ladies' cabin—it is not known how, but a spirit-lamp and bottle that had contained methylated spirit were found under one of the bodies—and spread so fiercely and rapidly that six women and a child were burnt to death before any help could be brought to them. The captain and crew and most of the passengers behaved extremely well, and one of the women, Miss Ledingham, a stewardess, with splendid heroism. She escaped alive, but then remembered that a little girl had remained behind in the cabin. Though she must have clearly realised the danger, she returned to try to save the child, but this proved impossible, and she was burnt to death. When the body was found the child's hand was clasped in hers Several privates of the Highland Light Infantry were on board and rendered great assistance to the crew. The only person who seems to have behaved bac:Iy and lost his head was a gentleman, who got into a great state of excitement, and rushed about the deck in a life-belt, waving an umbrella and accusing the soldiers of setting fire to the vessel. It is said that if the ladies who were burnt had come on deck the instant the alarm was given they would have escaped. They lost their lives by insisting on dressing themselves. One of the reports says tl'a t a sailor went down three times "to hurry up the women."