A CLUSTER OF CONFLAGRATIONS.
LESS than sixty seconds saw a million and one quarter’s worth of wheat and corn go up in smoke in Chicago on October 25. The scene of the blaze was Goose Island on the north branch of the Chicago river. The elevators destroyed were A and B of the Chicago and Pacific Elevator Company, whose burning also caused the loss of several frame buildings adjoining. In the elevators were stored 1,000,000 bushels of grain; the loss being as follows: On wheat $861,000; on corn. $34,800; on oats a few thousands; on the buildings and machinery $300,000, all fully covered by insurance. The blaze started in elevator B, and was probably caused by sparks from some passing steam tug. The place of origin was a regular fire-trap—filled with big elevators, docks, and sheds, almost touching each other, including the Armour elevator—the largest in the world. Small fires were continually springing up all around, and were as quickly extinguished by the watchful firemen. The boiler house of elevator B was first attacked by the department; but the men were driven back by^the blinding [sterm ard fierce heat,leaving part of their hose behind them. Five fire nen of another company, who were fighting the blaze from the roof of the elevator office —a one story brick building, had a narrow escape from death. The roof they were on fell in by the building catching fire underneath them, and they fell with it before a word of warning could be given. Fortunately the firemen seized the hose, and, the walls projecting a little above the collapsed roof,they hung over the fiery furnace until rescued by their comrades, A hundred or more freight cars of the Milwaukee and St. Paul road were rescued from beneath the flaming pillars at the peril of railroad men. who coupled the cars; and then some had to be left, The heat was so intense as to blister buildings a block distant; and at one time the flames were so fierce as to seem about to cross the river. This, however, the fine work of the fire department prevented. Meanwhile great bins, containing thousands of bushels of dry grain one above the other, were eaten gradually away by the flames. One bin withstood the fire longer than the rest and hung suspended in mid air. One side caught fire near the bottom and the heap of grain, released from its confinement, poured to the ground. a hundred feet below, to be met by the flames in its descent— the whole forming a picture of a burning Niagara.
Another very destructive fire was that at Lawrence. Mass., on October 26. It broke out in No. 4, of the Washington mills about 11 o’clock p. m. This is the drying room, where tons of dried wool are stored. The flames were overcome there, only to breakout in the main building, the fire running along the wing to mill 2, where it was put out by automatic sprinkfers. It then broke out in the wet finishing room, spreading thence to the weave room, where it was fondly imagined the fire was gotten under control. It reasserted itself, however—this time in the drying room again; then the spinning room went to blaze, quickly followed by the dye room and the carding room—and all, it is claimed from spontaneous combustion ! The loss by fire and water will be well on to $100,000; fully covered by insurance. Fireman Joseph McDermott, of engine No. 4 was overcome by smoke, and another fireman fell through a scuttle, injuring his leg.
A third blaze, this time at Zilwaukee, near Saginaw, Mich., caused a loss of 11,000,000 feet of lumber, belonging to the Central Lumber Company, and other firms, and valued at $125,000, on which the insurance is only $114,000.
A fourth conflagration swept away the business portion of the village of Savoma, six miles east of Bath,and not far from Corning, N. Y. The post office and several stores were destroyed; the loss being about $40,000, and the insurance very light.
Another fire of the same kind, only of incendiary origin, the successor of one, also incendiary, which swept away half the business portion of the place and caused the death of two women and a boy, took place at Ladonia, Tex. On this occasion twenty more business places, including the Ladonia bank, were destroyed. The blaze started about 4 o’clock a. m., and, like its predecessor, is regarded as the sequel to the bitter fight that has been going on for so many weeks between the Prohibitionists and their opponents. These last were the victors at an election, in consequence of which threats were made to burn out the saloon-keepers, one of whom was lately publicly horsewhipped by a band of female prohibitionists and his place wrecked by the same Amazonian wielders of the siake whip.
A third village, Notre Dame de Grace, Que , was nearly wiped out by a fire, which destroyed six stores and some dwellings, causing a loss of $50,000, with but small insurance.
Yet one more village must be added to the list. On the evening of October 27, fire started in the garret of Eugene Patten, at Milton, near Highland, N. Y., and in two hours swept away the business portion of the village, causing a loss of about $50,000, partly covered by insurance. The buildings burned were occupied or owned by seven of the principal business men of the place. While the fire was at its worst, Michael Dodd, one of the shopmen in the store of Nolan & Spratt, rushed into the rear of the store and carried out 150 pounds of gunpowder, thereby averting a disastrous explosion.