Birmingham Has $3,000,000 Fire
Twenty firemen and four others were injured in Birmingham, Ala., when fire broke out on March 10 in the heart of the downtown business district and calls were sent out for every fireman in the city and suburbs to help fight the blaze. Four spectators were struck by equipment or ambulances.
The fire started in the department store of Loveman, Joseph & Loeb Company, apparently from a short circuit. Thousands of Saturday afternoon shoppers jammed the streets and added to the problems of fighting the fire. The first alarm was sounded at 1 p.m. Half an hour later the flames reached five hundred gallons of lubricating oil. Every building in the block was cleared of occupants. Fire spread to nearby buildings and involved the Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company. Aid was rushed from the suburban communities of Bessemer, Fairfield, Tarrant and Homewood.
The department was hampered by lack of masks to enter the smoke-filled building. Men rushed in with handkerchiefs over their eyes and noses only to be forced out within a few moments. Property loss was placed at $3,000,000.
As a result of the blaze charges were brought that the department was inefficient. Following a hearing, the City Commission by a two to one vote exonerated the Fire Department of negligence and incompetence. Several former firemen, including a Chief, testified that in fighting the fire, the basement should have been flooded.
Chief William W. Leets, of the Wildwood, N. J., Fire Department, reports a reduction of 82.2 per cent in the fire loss in his city for 1933. This good result was achieved as the outcome of house to house inspections.