A Muskogee Fire.
How not to erect a building that shall not serve only as a firetrap, and how to construct one that shall serve that purpose, is a problem that has been admirably solved at Muskogee, Okla., where a recent fire destroyed a bakery, plumbing shop, clothing store, offices and rooming-house—practically a collection of miserably contrived structures as miserably built. This ill assorted, non-sprinklered pile of brick and stone was connected over an alley with a frame and tin bridge, and, as over that alley there was a room, the building was virtually one. It occupied a space of 50×200 ft., and was erected five years ago, and in front of it was a space 60 ft. wide, on which was laid a 14-in. main, into which the water is delivered from a standpipe. Eight hydrants, single and double, distant from each other 250 ft., were available, the pressure being 20 lb. That pressure, however, was not maintained, so that neither could good plug-streams be thrown, nor the engine be adequately supplied. The fire, which broke out in the centre of the building, was the result of a gasoline explosion, and by the time the department had arrived had spread to three rooms. There were brought into action an engine, a hook and ladder and three hose wagons. Three thousand ft. of cotton hose were laid, of which two lengths burst while the department was operating. Four hydrant streams were thrown and two from the engine— the whole six being kept on till the blaze was under control. The nozzles used were the ordinary ⅞-in. and The loss was $50,000, and the building was insured for $16,000. Chief John L. Templeton and his men could not be expected to do much in the way of saving a ramshackle building. All they could hope to do was to prevent a conflagration, which they did. They met with more than one hindrance. When the fire started, Chief Templeton writes, he had 20 lb. standpipe pressure. Owing to a break in the gas main the night before, his engine was cold, and, after working it about a half hour, he practically had the fire under control when the engine blew out its piston head, which left him with less than 20-lb. standpipe pressure to work with. He continues: “This is no fault of the city, as the waterworks system was built for a city of 10,000, and we now have 50,000 people. Out source of water supply is 4 miles from the city, being supplied with a 12 in. main. Owing to the cold weather, people allowed their hydrants to run, which cut down our pressure from about 50 to 20 lb. The city has on the way fifty carloads of 24-in. main to replace the present 12-in. main. We are to have a test of automobile apparatus here about the 15th of February. So you see the city is doing everything it can to increase the department. We have plenty of hose, three companies, all well equiped, so it was just one of those things we cannot account for, when everything went wrong.”