Antique Galleries Make Smoky Fire
Fire starting about 5:45 P.M. in the Samuel Hart galleries, combination antique and current furniture store, on South Main street, Houston, Texas, on September 11, practically wrecked the two-story block with losses to building and stock estimated at $250,000.
The heavy smoke and the fact that the fire was in full control of the finishing room of the galleries on the second floor and had extended to almost all other sections when first firemen arrived, gave the department a hard fight. Responding on three alarms, the crews of twentytwo pumpers and ladders fought the blaze from every vantage point to prevent its extension to other stores and nearby residences. In this they were successful.
The heavy smoke, movements of apparatus through the streets, and the broadcast reports of the fire, brought a crowd of thousands, many in motor cars to the scene, who jammed traffic and interferred with fire fighting operations. Efforts of police to clear the blocks of backed-up rush-hour traffic were only partially successful as spectators clung to vantage points in their cars.
First Chief Roy R. Whittlesey said he believed the fire started in a furniture refinishing room which contained a quantity of flammable varnishes. The highly combustible contents of the structure furthered rapid extension of the fire despite best efforts of firemen.