Albany Capitol Fire Aftermath.
The capitol at Albany, which was recently badly damaged by fire, and a description of which with illustrations, was given in this journal last week, is already undergoing repairs, and in another week the Senate and Assembly chambers will be ready for occupancy. In writing to FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING of the disaster, Chief W. W. Bridgeford gives a very vivid account from the standpoint of a fireman. He says: “The fire started in the northwest part on the second floor about 2:41 a. m.. front a cause not yet definitely known, the fire department arriving inside of four minutes. Although it continued to burn for twenty-hour hours, the fire was stopped where it started, just east of the towers. When the department arrived the flames were bursting out of the windows and extending across the sidewalk. Ten steamers and three ladder trucks responded to the alarm. There were no facilities in the building with which to cope with the flames, but there were plenty of 3-inch and 4-inch hydrants outside to which the firemen coupled up, and with a plug pressure of from 30 to 50 pounds twelve streams were maintained. The water mains in that vicinity are 24-inch and the streets about 100 feet in width, so that the firemen were able to work without hindrance. It was necessary to use about 5,000 feet of hose, of cotton rubber-lined make, and an Eastman nozzle was also employed to good advantage. Ninety-five per cent, of the building remains intact.” The accompanying illustrations give the reader an idea of the damages from points of view other than those shown in these columns last week.
Electric wiring in every part of the Capitol is defective, according to a report made by State Architect Ware to the Board of Trustees of Public Buildings. While Mr. Ware has reached no official conclusion as to the cause of the fire, he said his private opinion is that it was caused by fused electric wires. As a result of the thorough examination of wiring ordered by Governor Dix, Mr. Ware believes the whole structure should be rewired and new fixtures installed. He reported that “wires for telephones and messenger call boxes have been run indiscriminately among the lighting cables in a dangerous manner. Most of the wiring was done twenty years ago and apparently the work has been allowed to go to decay.” Mr Ware recommended the expenditure of $125,000 for the construction of fireproof vaults and cellars and the installation of fire extinguishers, watchmen’s time clocks and fire alarm signals. The state architect was instructed to remedy at once conditions at the more dangerous points. Mr. Ware told the trustees that the estimated damage to the Capitol building aggregated alxnit $1,000,000. In this connection he pointed out that tentative plans had been drafted for remodeling the western wing of the Capitol after the State Education Department and the State Library had been transferred to the new State Education Building. It was estimated that the cost for these changes w o u 1 d have been $500,000. This, he says, should he deducted from the damage done by the fire, leaving the actual net loss on the building upward of $1,000,000. Further alterations and improvements in the building recommended by the state architect, and which cannot be attributed to the fire, will bring the total cost of reconstruction up to about $2,230,000. The trustees practically decided that only part of this amount can be appropriated this year. To the total of $2,230,000, State Architect Ware says, should be added an allowance of 10 per cent, for contingencies and supervision, amounting to $223,000. The trustees voted an additional appropriation of $75,000 for the purchase of equipment for the education building, making the total for that purpose $700,000. When the late Isaac G, Perry, the Capitol commissioner and architect who finished the w’estern end of the Capitol, it was recalled to-day, put in the first mezzanine floor, lie predicted that fire would some day make a bad ruin of the Capitol, or part of it. Those who saw’ the fire on Wednesday morning when it broke through the transom of the Assembly library, said that it seized upon the mezzanine floor, which had been constructed in the corridor for the storage of legislative bills, and traveled so rapidly on the under side of this floor that they had to flee for their lives. Smouldering debris back of the Senate chamber in the Capitol was fanned into flame last Wednesday night by a strong wind, and a portion of the fire department was called. The lire was soon extinguished and then a hose was scut to the fifth floor, where another blaze was imminent in a heap of partly burned books.