The J. Marhoffer, a 175 foot long 600 ton steamer, left San Francisco for the Columbia River on May 14, 1910 with the intention of loading lumber at St. Helens and Oak Point before returning to the Bay City (Morning Oregonian, 20-May-1910).
Traveling at about 9 knots off the coast a few miles north of Newport on May 18, 1910, an assistant engineer had an accident with a blowtorch and set the engine room on fire. Without the ability to quench the fire or shut down the engine – the valves were too hot and the fire continued to spread – Captain Gustave Peterson pointed the steamer towards shore and gave the order to abandon ship. The crew, the captain, and his wife boarded lifeboats and made for shore. One of the lifeboats capsized, but everyone made it to shore as the J. Marhoffer crashed into the rocks with a dramatic explosion.
The only casualty was the cook Frank Tiffany, who, badly burned and tossed into the sea when the lifeboat he was on capsized, died of exposure or drowning (Morning Oregonian, 21-May-1910).