The loss of the steamer Bladen, briefly mentioned in the account of the fire at Wilmington on Sunday morning last, was caused by fire which occurred when the steamer was within 150 yards of her wharf. The most strenuous efforts immediately became necessary to save the lives of the passengers and crew, as the flames increased with fearful rapidity, and the Bladen was run in at the shed of the New York steamers, where the passengers were with difficulty landed in safety from small boats, but with the loss of all their baggage.
The Bladen was a stern-wheel steamer of wooden hull, remodeled in the spring of 1885, was fitted up for both passengers and freight, and had a capacity of about 800 barrels of rosin. She was owned by the “Bladen Steamboat Company,” and Messrs. A. E. Rankin & Co. were the agents at Fayetteville. She was built at a cost of $9,000, and was insured for $5,500, with $2,500 on cargo. A lot of 112 bales of cotton shipped by Mr. R. M. Nimocks to Messrs. Sprunt & Son, Wilmington, was protected by a floating policy. Capt. R. H. Tomlinson had recently been made commander of the Bladen, and at the time of its burning both he and Capt. Jeff. D. Robinson were on board.
The passengers on board the Bladen, were Messrs. Robt. Lee, of Wilmington, A. J. Harmon, of Bladen county, Dodson, a commercial traveler, Mrs. Thos. Hundley and child, of Fayetteville, Miss Erambert, of Richmond, Va., and one or two others whose names were not learned.
We learn that Miss Erambert was for a few moments in great danger, her hair being singed and clothing scorched before she could be rescued from the boat.
[Observer And Gazette – Fayetteville, NC February 25, 1886]