A STUBBORN BUFFALO BLAZE.
Early in the morning of December 8 a fire swept through the waterfront of Buffalo, N. Y., and at first threatened to destroy nearly all that section which lies along the Buffalo river, east of Michigan street. It was a fire which taxed all the energies of Chief B. J. McConnell and his men to fight; but the flames were well and skilfully localised, and a much greater destruction of property was avoided. As it was, the loss amounted to quite $300,000. The exact place where the fire started is not certain. If it were in the blacksmith shop adjoining the wooden freightshed of the Erie railway that makes the origin all the more mysterious, as it is said there had been no fire in it the day before. If it started in the freightshed, as seems more probable, it was from either a defective electric wire or from spontaneous combustion among some wheat, flour, etc., stored there. If it started in the blacksmith shop, then the flames ate their way through into the freighthouse, in spite of the alarms (tw’o and supplemental for engines) turned in by Chief McConnell, and the many pieces of apparatus called out. A stiff easterly wind w’as blowing at the time, and the fireboats Hutchinson, Grattan and Potter stationed themselves alongside in the river and threw heavy streams. The blacksmith shop was of one floor, about thirty feet high, forty wide and seventy long. Tt joined on to the west end of the freighthouse, which was of steel construction, covered with wood. Tt extended from 750 to 1.000 feet along the river front, was two stories high, and was 130 feet wide. The amount of wood in its construction and the proximity of the blacksmith shop to it formed a source of danger, which should never have been tolerated. Internally each floor was loaded to its utmost capacity with flour, bran, gluten and other mill products. When the fire was discovered hy the watchman, the flames had made great headway and were shooting out froui both buildings in every direction. The wind, which had shifted to the north, swept the flames across the river, and the draught created by the heat dropped pieces of hurtling wood on the large Niagara elevators A and B on the opposite shore. Roth elevators were at one time on fire in different places, and the leg of elevator R was slightly damaged. To hold the fire from gaining headway on the other side of the river, which is a mass of large buildings, engines were stationed in Ohio street and the firetugs Grattan and Hutchinson were brought into play. The tugs deluged the Niagara elevators from the riverside. Meanwhile the fire ran along the south side of the river, leaving the freighthouse in ruins. Tts spread was prevented bv the shifting of the wind, which allowed the firemen to reach the end of the long wooden trestle bridge used hy the Minnesota Dock company. This saved a fence that ran parallel with the freightshed for several hundred feet, as well as several buildings of the Dry Dock comnanv. To remove still farther away danger from that source, a number of freight cars were shifted out of the yards. By 7 :.30 a. m. the fire was under control, nothing being left of the freighthouse hut a mass of warped and twisted iron and a heap of smokin^ debris. The fire was the first the firemen of Ruffalo ever h.ad to fight in a two-story freighthouse. and they were verv badly handicapped hy the surroundings. Thev had to stumble about in the dark over a network of railway tracks, and in some places the mud was above their knees; sometimes thev had to work waist deep in water in a trench between the railway tracks and the freighthouse. The blacksmith house of the Dry Dock company escaped the fire which destroyed a great part of that plant last March Tt was the onlv building of the plant caught in the fire of rVremher 8. The blaze proved that the Ruffalo fire denartment is shorthanded and should have its force and apparatus increased.
Captain Christian Schimmels. of engine No. 25, Chicago, the oldest commander of the fire department in years of continuous service, is one of the few veterans living who answered the alarm that announced the great fire of October 8. 1871. He has been in the department forty-one years, and has been a captain thirty-six years. When he was advanced to his present position, he was assigned to duty at the house at Canalport avenue and Union street, and has been there ever since. He was born in Chicago in 1845.