Tag Archives: El-Polvorin

Fernando Johnson, a Hero for the Silver People of Panama

Fernando Johnson, veteran Red Cross worker and leader. May he rest in peace. Image thanks to La Prensa.

In the recent disastrous flooding that plagued several districts in Panama including the Province of Colon, it took more than 84 hours and legions of panamanian and international volunteer rescuers to locate the automobile that Fernando Johnson and Jorge Aleman, both lifetime volunteer profesional rescuers of the City and province of Colon, were traveling in.

According to the seven witnesses who survived this tragedy on November 25th, on the road at La Quebrada Ancha specifically at La Curva del Cebo, the road opened up and swallowed the pickup the Red Cross rescue crew was being transported in. Just before the vehicle sank under the tons of mud, rock and incessant rain, however, Fernando Johnson’s warning- and probably his last words on earth, rang out, “¡Salten, muchachos, que nos hundimos!,” – “Jump boys…we are sinking!” Continue reading

The El Polvorín Disaster

Last Honors to James Thompson, native of Jamaica,
who survived the El Polvorín Disaster. The photo displayed
on September 28, 1930, shows his funeral bier which
is mounted on his Fire Department’s fire engine.

Middle and bottom photos are frantic scenes of
a blaze on “N” Street being responded to by the
efficient and prompt Panama City Fire Department in 1930.


From the moment the Westindians made Panama their home every little boy of normal curiosity wanted to grow up to be a Bombero. Everyday conversations from the very beginnings of their Panama experience as well as the lyrics to their music were dotted with the mighty exploits of the legendary Bomberos– the brave firefighters of Panama City and Colon. These men also came to be affectionately known as the Camisas Rojas, from their distinguishing red shirts. Continue reading