On December 6th 1917 two cargo ships traveling through Halifax harbour collided, creating the largest explosion until the detonation of the atomic bomb. The explosion killed many people and devastated Halifax, its harbour and the neighbouring towns of Richmond and Darmouth. The towns surrounding the harbour were thriving thanks to the war overseas and their populations grew drastically. Halifax quickly became a "boom" town by 1917, only three years after the war. Halifax's population was about 50, 000 before the explosion, which at the time was one of the largest in Atlantic Canada. Businesses and industries around the harbour were on the rise since everything in Halifax revolved around the harbour. Since WWI broke out, Halifax harbour was extremely busy due to wartime shipping. It was so busy that the harbour traffic control couldn't keep up with the sheer volume of ships passing through daily. Collisions were frequent in the harbour. The ships usually followed "the rules of the road", which meant that ships had to pass each other on the right and signal their intentions and respect those of others. The two ships involved in the collision, the Monte-Blanc and the Imo did not adhere to any of the harbour rules. The devastating explosion could have been averted if harbour patrol had been warned of what the ship was carrying, if the Monte-Blanc had raised a flag warning of its cargo and if the public had been warned of the collision.
If the Halifax harbour patrol had been forewarned about the Monte-Blanc's volatile shipment they could have instructed emergency crews to begin evacuating the city. Emergency crews could have been evacuating the city instead of rushing to the harbour to try and put out the flames. Thirteen vehicles in all, including the newly acquired fire truck, were sent to the blaze . The Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Navy sent crews in small boats to investigate and help . The Stella Maris tried to douse the flames with its onboard hose, but...
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