Reference online: Papers Past Images online. NZ National Library.
North Otago Times 1 June 1865 page 2
Otago Witness 3rd June 1865 page 5 full account
Loss of the ship Fiery Star by Fire
The complete destruction by fire of the Black Ball Line ship, Fiery Star, on her voyage Brisbane to London. The Captain and 78 passengers left the burning ship on the 20th April, when 300 and 400 miles from land (the Chatham Islands). The Dauntless brings the mate (Mr Sargent), and 17 crew, who were taken off the vessel on the 12th ult, having been on the burning ship for 21 days. The Fiery Star, 1361 tons, T.M. Mackay and Co., of London, left Moreton Bay on the 1st April and was discovered to be on fire when in latitude 46 degrees 10 mins., longitude 170 degrees, on 19th April when John Adams came aft, and reported a strong smell of smoke in the forecastle. On the 20th April the Captain, and all the passengers save one and a number of the crew, left the vessel in four boats; but the chief officer and the rest stuck to her until taken off. The following are the names of the men picked up by the Dauntless:
Mr John Ormond, passenger
Mr William C. Sargent, chief officer
William Marshall, quarter-master
George Maber, engineer
George Strickland, chief steward;
John Sutton Palmer, second steward
Charles White, boatswain's mate
David Hariot, sailmaker
James North, carpenter
Knight Stevens, seaman
Charles Applequist, seaman
John Harget, seaman
Charles Smith, seaman
David Payne, seaman
John Bullen, seaman
Richard Breton, seaman
Richard Herdman, butcher
The ship was loaded principally with 256 bales, 3 bags wool, 1519 hides, and 9013 horns, 15qr - casks sherry, 5 bales cotton. On leaving Brisbane there were 63 passengers on board, and 42 of the crew, making a total of 105 souls.
The people were rescued and taken on board the Dauntless (Captain Moore) on the 12th May, at 4 p.m., at which time the Fiery Star was abandoned, and was then in flames; the dauntless stood by till 10.30 p.m., when the Fiery Star went down. She was a very fine American-built ship, and was beautifully fitted up. Great anxiety will be felt until it is ascertained whether any of the boats reached the Chatham Islands; and the H.M.S. Brisk was to proceed there. Mr Sargent states that a good deal of heavy weather prevailed before the boats could possibility make any land. A subscription has been commenced in Auckland for relief of the suffers, and to present testimonials to Mr Sargent, the chief officer of the lost of the vessel, and to Captain Moore, of the Dauntless.
There is an account of the burning of the "Fiery Star" in "The Colonial Clippers" by Basil Lubbock. He sates that the ship left Moreton Bay for London on 1st April 1865, and on 19th April, fire was discovered in the lower hold while 400 miles from Chatham Island (or Cuvier Island, an island off Cape Colville, Auckland). Captain Yule had all hatchways and ventilation pipes blocked with wetted sails and a steam pump was rigged, but the fire gained ground and on the 20th, the four remaining lifeboats (2 had been destroyed in bad weather a few days previously) were launched. The first mate (Mr Sargent), 4 able seamen and 13 apprentices agreed to stand by the ship as there was insufficient room in the boats, while 78 passengers and crew, together with the captain left in the lifeboats. The mate continued to fight the fire and altered course to get into the track of other ships. For 21 days they fought the flames and gales until 11th May when they were sighted and rescued by the "Dauntless" and the "Fiery Star" was abandoned. All passengers and part of the crew left the ships in the boats and was never heard of again.
It's quite difficult to survive without adequate food or water.