AMERICAN EXPRESS WAREHOUSE FIRE

AMERICAN EXPRESS WAREHOUSE FIRE

New York firemen had a costly blaze on their hands a short time ago when a fire invaded the main office and warehouse of the American Express Company, and the warehouses of the Adams Express Company on Madison avenue. With the flimsy temporary structures erected to house the holiday rush of shipments, the buildings involved occupied nearly the whole block, extending from Forty-seventh to Forty-eighth streets and from Madison avenue to the railway yards of the Grand Central depot. Fanned by a strong west wind the fire burned fiercely and spread with great rapidity. The offices of the American Express Company were located in a building formerly a Lutheran church, and it was in the vestibule of this edifice that a passenger on a passing Madison avenue car, at 1 o’clock in the morning, first saw the flames. An alarm brought engine No. 65 quickly to the spot, but the firemen arrived only to find the vestibule’ of the building and a small shed in front of it almost enveloped in flames. Quick work cleared these away when the main doors were attacked and as they fell in there was an explosion that sent firemen in all directions, followed by a rush of flames. It was seen then that the interior of the building was well involved and, fearing the spread of the fire, a second alarm was rung in, which brought Chief Croker and more engines on the scene. Tiie chief hastily took in the situation and sent in two more alarms that brought every engine in the city, from Fourteenth to Fifty-ninth streets and from river to river, to the scene. They were none too soon, for by the time they got to work, the high wind had caused the fire to spread to the sheds in the rear and to the Adams Express Company’s storage on the north and in an hour after its discovery, threatened the entire four blocks of warehouses. From every possible point, even from the depressed tracks of the New York Central railroad on the east, from which the most powerful streams could hardly reach the fire, the flames were fought and finally, after several hours of the hardest work, in bitter cold weather and with the use of a perfect deluge of water, they were eventually overcome Although firemen, insurance patrolmen and express companys employes worked well, comparatively little of the valuable goods with which the buildings were crowded, were saved. The loss was estimated at $1,200,000 almost wholly on contents, but did not reach that amount. One consignment of furs alone was valued at $300,000. The accompanying illustrations, made especially for this journal, show the completeness of the destruction in the main storageor church building. When the firemen who broke in the main doors, were overtaken by the flames following the explosion, several were badly bruised and burned and one, a member of Engine Company 65, was removed to the hospital. Two of the express company’s watchmen suffered in the same manner and were taken away for treatment. It was one of the quickest and most expensive fires the New York department has for some time been called upon to deal with.

INTERIOR VIEW AMERICAN EXPRESS BUILDING AFTER FIRE.RUINS SHOWING ONLY MASONRY WALLS INTACT, AMERICAN EXPRESS COMPANY.

Salt Lake Fire Department.

Although the Salt Lake, Utah, fire department was hampered, according to Chief Glore’s annual report, nevertheless a fine record was made. In the first eleven months of 1909 a total of 345 alarms were responded to, calling for a little more than an average run of one run per day, and of these 345 runs only eighteen were fires which amounted to losses of $950 or more. The 345 fires involved property valued at $3,342,660, on which insurance of $1,462,558 was carried, and on which the total loss was $135,632. Of this total loss $126,890.90 was paid to the insured by the insurance companies. The fire department traveled 7,601.5 miles, stretched 68,000 feet of hose, or a little less than 10 miles, used 1,765 gallons of chemicals and raised a total of 1909 feet of ladder. During this time the department was in service 317 hours and 45 minutes, or a total of 13 days 5 hours and 45 minutes. The cost of maintaining the department for the first eleven months of the year was $75,832.15, of which $61,190.30 was for salaries. Records of the average water pressure of the first eleven months show that the pressure was a little more than 94 pounds. During the year the loss ran over $1,000 each in fifteen fires. Two of these, the Bountiful opera house, where the loss was $10,000, and Granite Lumber Company, where the loss was $75,000, were outside of the city limits. The other thirteen fires with a loss of over $1,000 were as follows: Benefit Paint and Glass Company, $6,500; residence at 1745 South Seventh Fast, $2,800; macaroni factory. Fourth West, $14,600; IXL Furniture Company’s store, $85,300; American Tea Company, $1,650: residence, 54 Rio Grande avenue. $1,000; residence, 434 L street, $1,000; P. J. Moran’s asphalt plant, City Creek canyon, $2,500: Pittsburg-Salt Lake Oil Company, $1,000; Sierra Nevada Lumber Company, $11,456; Baron clothing store, $3,419; A. M. Cannon, barn, $1,350; Utah Oil and Refining Company. $5,414. Chief Glorc says the only trouble with the department is the lack of members and apparatus. He recommends the purchase at once of 10,000 feet of hose, an automobile chemical engine, and a water tower.

Quick Work of Fire at Portsmouth.

In five hours a three-story building, 120×180 feet, at Portsmouth, Va., was reduced to a heap of smouldering ashes, and in this brief period, property valued at more than $100,000 was destroyed. The building was the O. L. Williams block of business structures, about 17 years old. ft was partly built of brick and wood and partly of wood and sheet iron. It had no special means of protection and the nature of the contents made it a ready prey to the flames. The greater part of the block was occupied by the owner as a livery stable, and contained a number of valuable horses, carriages, etc. There were also a large hay, grain and feed warehouse, two restaurants and a saloon included in the business of the structure. Smoke issuing from the part of the building occupied by the owner, furnished the first signal of the fire and an alarm was at once turned in, but when the firemen arrived, it was seen at once that the fire was beyond control and that the hardest work would barely suffice to save adjacent property. Next to the blazing structure, and separated from it by only a narrow alley, was the Seaboard Market and Armory building, and to save this the firemen bent every effort, realizing that its being involved would probably cause the destruction of the entire southern business section of the city. Fortunately, just as it was beginning to burn, the wind shifted to the opposite direction, the firemen redoubled their efforts and the simultaneous collapse of the ruins of the burned Williams block gave them command of the situation. At one time it looked as if Chief William R. Walker would have been compelled to ask assistance from adjacent cities to prevent a general confiagration. but tireless effort, backed by a good supply of water, finally won the day. The full force of Portsmouth’s fire department was called upon to fight the flames. There were three steamers, a first-size Nott, a second-size Amoskeag and a third-size La France, three Holloway. combination wagons and 1 Babcock truck, third-size, in use and six 4-inch single hydrants, set about 275 feet apart. The pressure registered 60 pounds and there was an 8-inch main in the street in front of the building. The quantity of water was sufficient to furnish good streams and supply the engines. Only engine streams, however, were used and of these six were thrown at one time from one 1 1/2, two 1 1/4 and three 1 1/8-in nozzles. Kastman nozzles siamesed were used and 3,500 feet of cotton, rubber-lined hose was stretched. Only the highest praise is heard for the work of the Portsmouth firemen, wnose efforts were handicapped by the severe cold, while the flimsy character of the building and its combustible contents, made the work of saving it well-nigh impossible.

Fire Losses at Davenport.

Regarding the fire losses in Davenport, Ia., the report of the committee on fire prevention of the National Board of Fire Underwriters says: “The gross fire loss for the past five years, as given in the fire department records, amounted to $734,164, varying from $31,060 in 1904 to $290,529 in 1907. The average number of fires was 167, varying from 145 in 1904 to 190 in 1907, with an average loss of $880 per fire, a high figure. The average number of fires per 1,000 population (based on an estimated average population of 40,700) was 4.1, and the average yearly loss per capita was $3.67, both high figures.”

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