A TRINITY OF FIRES
As was briefly mentioned in these columns at the time, three fires, all of which started between 7 and 8 o’clock p. m., in the lower section of Manhattan, New York, caused about $1,000,000 worth of damage, more or less, within the space of two hours and kept the fire department hard at work far into the small hours of the morning, besides causing a general movement of the apparatus downwards from Fifty-ninth street to supply for those pieces that had been called out by the third, fourth and fifth alam fires farther down.
The first fire started at a few minutes after 7 o’clock, the alarm coming from the triangular building at Franklin, Leonard and Hudson streets, occupied by wholesale grocers, and it was there the greatest damage—about $1,000,000— was sustained. The firemen who arrived on the first alarm found the building on fire right through, and the embers being carried for several blocks by the strong northwesterly wind. The 6-story brick building was occupied by 3 firms— the Lipton Tea company, E. L. Hazard & Co., importers and jobbers, and Crandall & Godley, wholesale grocers. The structure occupied a triangular space and extended from 95-100 Hudson street, 1-11 Leonard street and 155-163 Franklin street. The blaze started in the Lipton office on the ground floor. Three alarms brought to the scene eighteen engine companies, five hook and ladder trucks, two water towers and the searchlight engine. A bad explosion took place almost as soon as the department arrived. Water tower No. 1 on the Hudson street side was put out of action by the nozzle at the top of the tower being blown off by the pressure. So great was the force of water that the heavy nozzle was blown clean over the building. Water tower No. 2 quickly took the other’s place and the fight went on. The steam fire engines were not being used; only the high-pressure streams, fifteen or more in number, were relied on. There were several accidents—all to firemen. Victor C. Coakley, of engine company No. 6, received a bad scalp wound and concussion of the brain, caused by a high-pressure hose which broke aw’ay from him. This is a constant source of danger attached’to the system. Earlier in the evening Captain Samuel Roxbury and fire men of engine company No. 27 had a narrow escape from a similar accident. The tripod which held a highpressure line in place slipped, and the six men who were working the line were thrown to the ground and rolled about in the road. But they clung to the line until the water was cut off. Had the line got loose, it might have played havoc with the crowd nearby, watching the fire. While the high-pressure hose was actually putting out the fire, the steamers were lined up in Leonard street and West Broadw-ay pouring water from the old mains over 2, 4, 6 and 8 Leonard street, occupied by the Tames D. Smith company, wholesale grocers. The flames were almost licking this building. The heat in Leonard street was intense, and the firemen worked under great difficulties. The streams formed an arch oyer the Smith building, as well as a curtain in front, and, besides saving that, helped to cool tlie air so as to allow the firemen to work. The cornice of the burning building came down with a rush into Leonard street, only just missing the men of engine No. 7, who, in escaping, had to leave their line of hose behind them. All that was left of the building was two big, bare walls facing Franklin and Hudson streets. The Leonard street wall had fallen. The interior of the building was a mass of debris piled up on the ground. The immense quantities of water poured into the building had frozen in most fantastic designs. The streets round were inches deep in ice, while the firemen themselves had their clothes frozen stiff on them, with icicles hanging from their helmets.
While this fire was being attended to, within an hour came alarms from 600 Broadway, a millinery and lace dealers’ loft building, and from 113 Broadway, a clothing factory, which, with the Hudson street blaze, kept 660 firemen busy, and seven high-pressure pumps were kept going in the Gansevoort street and North River pumping stations and the other at the foot of Oliver street on the East River. None of the hivh-pressure hose burst, although each numo delivered 3,000 gal. per minute. Three lines of hose served each water tower, and forty steam fire engines in all were called out to the three fires and kept ready for action at any moment. It was a night of fires and lire alarms. The Broadway blaze, which practically demolished the building, extending though it did from 60002 Broadway to 132-34 Crosby street, was a five-alarm fire; that at 96-100 Hudson street, was a 4-alarm; that at 13½ Bowery, was a 3-alarm. T welve alarms were thus turned in between 7:22 and 8:47 p. m., in little more tha’n an hour.