VX-6 Shop Fire

fire destroys the VX-6 parachute loft and rigging shop
Bystanders watch the spectacular fire destroying the parachute loft and avionics shop.

The fire was first discovered at 2200 1 February 1961. The initial concern was that PR2 Richard Spaulding, who bunked in the parachute loft, might have been caught in the fire, but he was the first to arrive when the alarm was sounded. The weather at the time was +31F with light snowfall. The fire started in the parachute loft, and after filling that structure it quickly spread to the connected downwind avionics shop, destroying both structures. Over 100 men fought the blaze but were unable to prevent destruction of the buildings...although they did salvage the adjacent helicopter hangar (a 40x100 foot Quonset hut) by wetting it down. The hangar was only 20 feet away. Meanwhile, groups of men salvaged equipment from the avionics shop before that structure was engulfed. The fire started to burn itself out just before midnight. The origin was never determined; it destroyed expensive electronic equipment as well as supplies belonging to the squadron's four-man pararescue team. Total damage was over $200,000.

The map near the top of this page depicts the site of the fire.

VX-6 shop fire
The structures are fully engulfed.
Fighting the VX-6 shop fire
Firefighters attempt to keep the blaze from spreading.

These are official US Navy photos...the first two are from the 1960-61 Task Force 43 cruisebook; the photo at lower right is courtesy Bruce Raymond. Most of the story details are from the Bulletin of the US Antarctic Projects Officer, Vol. 2 No. 6, February, 1961, p. 7.