Interview With Tom L. Riley

From the interview with Tom L. Riley of Port Townsend, conducted by Patience Rogge on June 20, 2008 by telephone for the Fort Worden Oral History Program. Mr. Riley was a civilian employee of the U.S. Army working in fire prevention protection for more than 30 years:

“…until the time I retired, every GI that I ever saw smoked…when I made my annual fire loss reports, I’d check how many fires you’ve had and what caused them…about fifty per cent were from smoking, and the loss of life the same way. That’s right, especially (because of) the wool blankets the Army has. I’ve actually seen husky soldiers that could have gone through the wall to get out of those buildings, because they were two-by-four shiplap in those days. And when I would get there to investigate the fire, he’d still be in the bed, and of course, he’d be dead. He just lay there and burned to death. What happens is that they’d breathe the fumes from those wool blankets and it ‘d actually anesthetize them….then they’d just go to sleep and that’s it.”

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