3-Alarm Blaze Fatal to Fireman
Six Boston firemen were burned and injured, one fatally, when they were caught in a back draft explosion while fighting a fire that caused damage estimated at $50,000 in the J. J. Newberry Company variety store on Massachusetts Avenue, Back Bay. Three alarms were sounded.
Hoseman Cornelius Noonan, Engine Company 33, died from the effects of his burns.
The blaze originated in the cellar from an unknown cause and had apparently been smouldering for hours before it was discovered by a taxicab driver shortly after 6 a.m. Dense smoke poured from the building, a two-story brick structure, and while the firemen were inside the store preparing to operate cellar pipes through holes chopped in the floor, a sudden hot air explosion occurred and the first floor was instantly enveloped in flames. The men abandoned tlieir hose line and ran for the exits; but were badly burned before they coulrl reach the street.
The response of apparatus was as follows: hirst alarm, Engine Companies 33, 37. 22, and 23; Ladder Companies 15 and 26; Rescue Company No. 1, and Chiefs of Districts Nos. 7 and 8. Second alarm, Engine Companies 13, 3, 26, 10, and 43; Ladder Companies 12 and 13; Chief of Division No. 2, and two lighting plants. Third alarm, Engine Companies 6, 24, 34, 32, 15, and 42; Chief of Department, and fuel truck.
Chief Samuel J. Pope was in charge of department operations, assisted by Deputy Chiefs John F. McDonough and William F. Quigley, and District Chiefs William Mahoney and Daniel Martcll. One wagon gun stream was operated. Cellar pipes were worked from the sidewalk and from a rear alley. The blaze was brought under control in about an hour and a half.
Sections of the first floor with the store counters collapsed and fell into the cellar. The fire penetrated to the second floor, but was checked before much damage was done. A hole was made in the wall of an adjoining shoe store through which a hose stream was operated. A dividing wall in the building aided in checking the spread of the fire to other stores in the block. Salvage covers were spread by the Boston Protective Department.