Aid Rushed From Nearby Cities to Fight General Alarm Fire Started During Zero Weather—Chief Sullivan Averts Conflagration

FALL RIVER, Mass., called outside aid to assist in fighting a serious fire on January 29 which originated in the Big Merchants’ Cotton Mill, vacant for several years, and not guarded by a watchman. The flames raged through the long five-story mill and, fanned by a forty-mile gale, spread to nearby structures. Flying embers ignited a large frame tenement block some distance away.

One life was lost, several firemen were injured, eight buildings were destroyed or badly damaged, and a loss estimated at $200,000 resulted from the fire which began at a. m. of a bitterly cold and windy day.

Besides the mill, the property involved in the Fire consisted of a paper supply house, a grain company and a wholesale grocery warehouse, a 2-story frame building used as a beauty shop and dwelling, a 3-story tenement, and a tire shop which was reduced to ruins when one of the walls of the mill fell upon it. The fire area was bounded by Bedford and Pleasant Streets and by Thirteenth and Fifteenth Streets.

A man was caught by a falling wall while assisting in removing goods from the tire shop and was instantly killed. A Fail River hoseman fell from a ladder and was seriously injured. Several other firemen sustained minor injuries and many suffered from frostbite in the near-zero temperature.

Ruins of Cotton Mill Fire at Fall River, Mass.

Chief Jeremiah F. Sullivan, of the Fall River Fire Department, was in charge at the fire and it was due to his skillful handling of the situation that a threatened conflagration was prevented. Realizing the seriousness of the blaze under prevailing weather conditions, he ordered a general alarm and summoned aid from cities and towns within a 25-mile radius.

Apparatus responded from Bristol, Brockton, East Providence, Freetown, Glen Farms, Newport, New Bedford, Providence, Somerset, Swansea, Taunton, Tiverton, Warren, and Westport. The Fall River department had 18 pieces of apparatus and 163 men at the scene and laid 12,250 feet of hose.

It is thought that the fire in the mill was caused by tramps who built a bonfire in the structure to keep warm. An ordinance has now been filed with the Fall River city council to require watchmen for all empty mill properties.

The accompanying table, furnished by courtesy of Chief Sullivan, shows the companies at the fire, number of firemen, hose laid, and hours of service rendered by the motor pumping engines.

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