A Night of Fires in Chicago.
In the week ending January 9 Chicago suffered losses by fire amounting in the aggregate to a very large sum. On the night of January 6 incendiarism burned more than one building, and no less than fifteen fires occurred. Two of these occurred in different parts of Ashland avenue. One was in the house of the Illinois club, at No. 154, which, with its art gallery and costly fittings, was totally destroyed. The pictures alone were valued at $175,000, and the building and fittings at over $100,000. The fire apparently broke out in the art gallery, and before the department could reach the spot the roof and a large skylight fell in. All the firemen could do was to prevent the spread of the flames to adjoining buildings.
Several firemenn were injured and twenty-five families were driven from their homes by a fire that destroyed the plant of the Darling Fertilising company at Forty-second street and Ashland avenue. It threatened Swift & Co.’s plant, but the good work of the firemen saved it. The fire started among the bonedust in the northeast corner of the first floor, in which the overheated oven caused an explosion of the bonedust. The building was of brick mill construction, but not sprinklered. In height it was a 5-story structure, occupying a space of 102×107 ft. The height of the east wall was 72 ft.: of the south, 150 ft.: of the west, 104 ft.; of the north, 107. The date of its erection was 1907 and 1908. In front of the building the space was (X) ft., and on it was laid a 16-in. main. When the department arrived, the fire had spread all through the building, and was fought with thirty engines of different makes, four hook and ladder companies being also in attendance. At intervals of between 200 and 500 ft. were set 2½-⅛. and 4-in. double and single hydrants in sufficient numbers for the operations of the fire department. The trouble was the lack of water to supply hydrant and engine streams—twenty of the latter and ten of the former. Thirty streams were thrown at once, but more could have been thrown, had it not been for the fact that the pressure at the hydrants in the yard was only about 5 lb. Fifteen thousand feet of cotton hose, with nozzles, varying in size from 1 ½-in. to 1 ¼-in., were used; only 3 lengths of hose burst during the whole time the fire lasted. The fire communicated to the two buildings of the plant through a vestibule that had been left open and destroyed them. The loss on these buildings was $75,000; on their contents—machinery and stock—$60,000. After the arrival of the first engine companies a general alarm was sounded, and soon after Chief Horan appeared on the scene and took charge. The fire by this time had practically eaten its way through the two buildings. A fertiliser plant of Swift & Co., which was directly across Forty-second street south of the fire, was used by the firemen, who puled lines of hose upon the roof and fought the flames from there to prevent its spread to that plant. About 6 o’clock Chief Horan noticed a weakening of the south wall of the building A, and ordered 4 engine companies to move out of the way of the wall, should it fall. Five minutes later the wall fell, and several of the firemen were buried under the debris, while others were struck by the flying bricks. Engine company 15 was the nearest company to the south wall, and all of its members were partly injured when it fell. As the flames reached the third floor, five tanks, containing glue and chemicals, exploded, and the fire then spread to the four-story building east of building A, known as building G, which is used both as a storehouse and a fertiliser plant. One thousand hogs, to be used as rendering material, were destroyed, and two carloads of fertiliser, which were on the Chicago Junction railway tracks, to the east of the blaze, were also destroyed. The fire was thought to be under control, and most of the engine companies were sent back to their quarters; but it broke out again an hour later. The remaining firemen with difficulty mastered it, and the other companies were not called upon again. The other buildings burned during the night were the Trocadero theatre, with a loss of $15,(XX) in stage and dressingrooms; a flat house, with a loss of $2,(XX); a tenement house, with a building loss of $5(X), besides those sustained by the twenty families, who were driven out; a dwellinghouse, the cause of the lire being an overheated furnace, with a loss of $2,(XX); an hotel, from which twenty live persons escaped in their nightclothes, the loss to the proprietor being $1,(XX). The Other files included two business places, an hotel, a res taurant, and a typewriter company’s establishment, lately rebuilt, where a can of gasoline ex ploded and caused a loss of $1,(XX); railway sheds; a music hall.