Companies Sent from Swampscott, Revere, Saugus, Nahant and Lynnfield — Boston Sends Fireboat, and U. S. Coast Guard Helps

Chief William F. Welch

DAMAGE estimated at $750,000 was caused on February 10 when fire starting from spontaneous ignition in a coal pile, and driven by a high wind, swept a 500-foot dock, coal hoists, and coal conveyors at the plant of the Lynn Gas and Electric Company, Lynn, Mass.

The first alarm was received at 11:29 a.m. Engine Companies Nos. 4 and 1, Ladder Companies Nos. 2 and 3, Chemical Company No. 1, two District Chiefs, and a Deputy Chief responded. As soon as it was ascertained that the fire was spreading beneath the wooden dock, a second alarm was sounded, which brought to the scene Engine Companies Nos. 6 and 3, Ladder Company No. 1, Chief William F. Welch, and three district Chiefs. A third alarm brought Engine Companies Nos. 5 and 7 and Ladder Company No. 4.

General Alarm Is Sounded

This was followed by a general alarm, calling to the scene Engine Companies Nos. 9, 8, 2, 10, 11, 12 and 13 of the Lynn Fire Department, also an engine and a ladder company from Revere and an engine and a ladder company from Swampscott. In response to special calls Everett sent an engine company, Saugus sent an engine company, Revere sent a second engine company, Boston sent a fireboat (Engine Company No. 47), and Nahant and Lynnfield each sent an engine to “cover in” at the Lynn central fire station. A call was sent for the U.S. Coast Guard, also calls for ambulances in Lynn, Swampscott, Saugus, and Nahant.

Flames Spread Beneath Wharf

In spite of attempts by Lynn firemen to extinguish the flames beneath the wharf with cellar pipes dropped through holes chopped in the planking and by a line of hose lowered on to a raft, the fire continued to gain headway, spreading to two large coal hoisting derricks which had been moved to the western end of the belt conveyor runway, as far away as possible from the point where the fire originated. Fire swept up an inclined metal clad runway toward the electric power house and across a conveyor bridge to the gas producer plant. Explosions of coal dust added to the fury of the flames, but, after a hard fight, the fire was kept from entering the power buildings.

Hoisting and Conveying Machinery Ruined

The intense heat warped and ruined the valuable hoisting and conveying machinery and the two hoisting derrick cranes were a total loss. Dense smoke and fumes hampered the firemen and it was necessary to stretch long lines of hose and to use engines pumping in relays. All available post hydrants in the yard and street were utilized. The average hydrant pressure was 50 pounds.

The Fire in Coal Hoists of Lynn This photograph was taken while the fire was at its height. At the extreme right is shown part of the conveyor bridge which crashed into the water.

Men Trapped Under the Wharf

Firemen who had gone down a ladder to a raft with a line of hose to direct a stream of water beneath the wharf, were trapped by the spreading fire, which sent flames and smoke over the raft in such volume that a return to the dock was impossible. In an attempt to escape in a small row-boat the craft became overloaded and upset. The firemen, in rubber boots and coats, were in danger of drowning; but managed to cling to the boat until rescued by Coast Guardsmen, who brought a dory by truck from the Nahant Station and rowed to the rescue of the firemen.

Hose and Nozzles Used

The department laid 19,000 feet of 2 1/2-inch cotton rubber lined hose. Twenty-four lines were laid and two Eastman portable guns were used. The size of nozzles was 1 3/4-inch on the guns and 1 1/4-inch and 1 1/8-inch tips on the mobile lines. The Boston fireboat used deck guns and stack pipe.

Chief William F. Welch directed the firemen and was assisted by Deputy Chief Joseph E. Scanlon and District Chiefs James J. O’Neill, Edwin Mills, Ernest W, Williams, Henry Haddock, and William Kelley. Fifteen firemen were injured.

Among those who rendered first aid was Rev. Fr. Michael F. Collins, of the Star of the Sea Church in Marblehead.

The Lynn department worked at the fire until 5 p.m., the following day. Electric flood lights were utilized for night operations and overhauling.

The following fire apparatus of the Lynn department was in service:

Six Ahrcns-Fox piston type motor pumping engines, four of 1,000-gallon capacity, and two of 750-gallon capacity; four Buffalo motor pumpers of 1,000-gallon capacity; one 750-gallon Buffalo pumper; two 750-gallon American-FaFranee motor pumpers; two 75-foot Ahrens-Fox aerial ladders, one White 85-foot aerial ladder, one 85-foot American-LaFrance aerial ladder, and one Maxim chemical.

The wharf, of wooden piling and cresoted timbers, was 500 feet long and 40 feet wide. One of the coal conveyor bridges, which crossed over a slip, fell into the water during the fire, with a crash that could be heard a mile away. The firse was the most spectacular and the most difficult to fight that Lynn firemen have experienced in years.

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