AN INCIDENT OF THE JACKSONVILLE FIRE.
Willie the dog of the central fire station, at Jacksonville, Fla., lost his life in the recent great fire. His ashes are mingled with those of the station, so long his home.
Willie was a black Russian poodle, a handsome fellow, that came to Chief Haney years ago from the fire department of Montgomery, Ala. He had another name in earlier days—they called him “Satan” when he first arrived in Jacksonville, but his characteristic laziness and indifference earned for him the name of “Wearie Willie.” And so he was known, intimately, to every fireman of Jacksonville. The horses knew him too, and all about the department in his canine wisdom Willie knew—kept it to himself, never was he known to wag his tail, far less his tongue, about what he saw and heard. He was part of the department, and was proud of it. So for years Wearie Willie lolled round the central station, the picture of careless idleness, cynically (for all dogs are cynics) musing on the world that he saw with half-closed eyes. When there was a fire alarm, however Willie was no longer a lazy dog. Then was he all action, all excitment and animation, following always the galloping horses as they sped with the hose wagon to the scene of danger. Many a fire,great and small, Willie saw through,and when it was over, trotted proudly back to the station, and shared in the triumph of the victory won. Part of the glory he felt his own, and anyone could see that in his doggish way he claimed it.
When the great fire came, Willie, as was his custom, ran, sanguine and exultant, behind the hose wagon— expectant as ever of winning other laurels. But the work was hard, and, doubtless, Willie soon saw that for his human friends there was cut out that day a task that rarely comes to mortals. He saw them work, brave the hot blasts, and fight inch by inch in the teeth of remorseless, resistless odds. It made his poor, brute heart sick — the unflinching fortitude, the gallant stand after stand that was made in vain against the unleashed legions of flame that came in overwhelming power to laugh at puny human resistance as they swept and blighted the devoted city. From point to point he followed the hose wagon, and who can say that blank despair did not add to the exhaustion that well-nigh overcame him? Weakly, he followed the wagon back to the central station for more hose. The fire followed. He entered the station, and refused to leave it No calls, no coaxing from those who were near could bring him out. The firemen, his friends, had no time to rescue him by force. The flames came and destroyed the station—in a few brief minutes it was smoulderiug ruins, and Willie, the black Russian poodle, died in the home he loved.
These are the facts of the death of Willie, the dog of the central fire station, and Chief Haney and other firemen will corroborate them.
The Tonnelier block at Traverse City, Mich., completely destroyed by fire. A drug store, a tobacco store, the Citizen’s Telephone Exchange, and a book store suffered most. Total loss $57,000, with an insurance of hardly $28,000.