Four Alarm, Sounded for Church Fire, Three Alarm, for Blaze on Steamer, and Two Four-Alarm Fires in Brick Building,

THE Central Congregational Church, a large frame edifice at the junction of Seaverns Avenue and Elm Street in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston. Mass., was destroyed by fire on the night of December 27. Flames hurst through the roof. Blue sparks from a melting copper weather vane shot into the air as from a giant Roman candle. Dense clouds of smoke rolled from the church as Boston firemen, summoned by four alarms, sought vainly to check the flames which originated in the basement and swept upward through the walls to the blind attic and cock-loft.

The night was so cold that wires, trees, surrounding build ings, apparatus and men, soon became encased in ice front the freezing spray as five Morse wagon guns poured tons of water into the blazing structure. The first alarm was received at 9:03 p.m. A second alarm was sounded at 9:07 and at 9:20 Acting Deputy Chief James W. Mahoney ordered a third alarm. Chief Henry A. Fox ordered a fourth alarm at 9:48. A special call was sent in for a water tower.

The department laid 14,850 feet of hose and the sizes of nozzles used were 1 1/4-inch. l 1/4-inch l 1/2-inch, and 2 inches. One fireman sustained a broken collar hone and abrasions of the hack, and another was overcome by smoke.

District Chiefs at the fire were Martell, Ward, and McCarthy.

The response of apparatus was as follows: On the first alarm, Engine Companies 28, 42, and 53; Ladder Companies 10 and 30, and the Chief of District No. 12; on the second alarm. Engine Companies 45. 24, 14, 18. and 37; Ladder Companies 16 and 23, Chief of District 13 and Chief of Division No. 3: on the third alarm. Chief Fox, Engine Companies 23, 22, 20, 12, and 26; and on the fourth alarm Engine Companies 3. 10, 16. 13, and 2; Ladder Company No. 20, and Chief of District No. 8. Wagons of the Boston Protective Department, ambulances from the Boston City Hospital, police cars, and emergency vehicles of the Edison Electric Illuminating Company and the Boston Consolidated Gas Company also responded. Ladder Company No. 3 was special called.

Burning of Central Congregational ChurchRuins of Warehouse in the Charlestown Area of Boston

Lines of hose were taken into the church by rear doorways and over fire escapes. Fire was found in the basement and although this blaze was extinguished the heavy smoke rolling from all parts of the building showed that the fire was traveling upwards through the walls and organ loft. Flaines soon showed at the rear of the main floor and spread with great rapidity. Morse wagon guns were brought into play at the side and later in front, and portable guns were used in the rear. Illumination of the scene was furnished by flood lights from the two electric lighting plants ot the department which went to the scene on the second alarm. The fuel truck responded on the third alarm. Two aerial ladders were used, and a number of portable ladders. The damage to the church was estimated at $75,000. The cause of the fire is unknown.

On December 21 the Boston firemen had a long and hard battle with a fire on the steamer “Ontario,” of the Merchants’ and Miners’ Transportation Company. Flames were discovered in the cargo hold as the vessel neared the eastern entrance of the Cape Cod Canal after leaving Boston at 6 p.m., Dec. 20, bound for Norfolk and Baltimore. Captain Kauserud turned about and headed back to Boston after sending a radio message asking fireboats to meet the ship. The steamer came up the harbor shortly before 3 a.m., escorted by the fire boats, and docked at Pier 2, Northern Avenue, South Boston. Smoke was pouring from the ventilators and hatchways aft. An alarm was sounded at 3 a.m.

Boston Fireboats at Work on Steamer Ontario

and a second alarm at 3:13, both ordered by radio from the tire boat “Matthew J. Boyle.” Lines of hose were taken aboard from the fireboats and from the land companies. Fire burning in a mixed general cargo which included wool, leather, shoes, and paints gave off a dense smoke, making it impossible to reach the seat of the blaze. Holes were chopped in the floor of the dining saloon over the cargo hold for cellar pipes, and streams were also played down the ventilators. An opening was made in the steel hull of the ship from the Fireboat “Matthew J. Boyle with the oxy-acetylene cutting torch through which streams of water were directed into the hold.

Fire continued to spread and the ship took a heavy list to port. Shortly after 9:30 a.m. flames spread between decks and burned out the staterooms, dining saloon, and crew’s mess-room and pantry. The fire came up so quickly that it was necessary to temporarily abandon several lines of hose. A third alarm was sounded at 9:55 to summon additional men and apparatus. The list of the ship increased to the danger point and at 10:30 Captain Kauserud ordered all water lines shut off. life preservers put on the crew, and the steamer towed out and beached on the flats off Governor’s Island. Fire boats “Angus J. McDonald” and “Matthew J. Boyle” accompanied the “Ontario” and pumped water into the hold all afternoon. For a time several deck guns were operated from the fire boats. Chief Henry A. Fox and Deputy Chiefs Louis C. I. Stickel and John J. Kenney directed the firemen.

The Boston department fought a 4-alarm fire in the 5story brick building on the corner of Columbus Avenue and Prentiss Street in the Roxbury Crossing section of the city. This blaze had its origin in the cellar and had evidently been smoldering and spreading for some time before its discovery as when the firemen reached the scene they found the building heavily charged with heat and smoke. The flames went up through shafts and pipe ducts and also through the walls, mushrooming on the top floor. Occupants of a fifth floor apartment, seven persons in all, were rescued by police and firemen. Lines of hose were taken into the building over stairways and up a fire escape in a rear court, also over ladders and the fire was fought from the inside amid heavy smoke. The seat of the flames in the basement was finally reached when deadlights in the sidewalk were opened and a line of hose taken down a ladder to the front section of the cellar which could not be reached from the inside stairs.

Chief Henry A. Fox was in charge of department operations, assisted by Deputy Chief Thomas H. Downey. The first alarm was sounded at 4:57 a.m., followed by a second at 5:12, third at 5:25, and a fourth alarm at 5:38.

Four alarms were sounded for a fire which caused $50,000 damage in the 3-story brick warehouse at 42-44 Miller Street, Charlestown, occupied by the Fisk Tire Company. Flames, fanned by a stiff northwesterly wind, were raging fiercely when the first apparatus reached the scene and were threatening to spread to a row of frame tenements in close proximity to leeward. Hose streams and wagon guns were brought into play to form a water curtain, and lines of hose were also taken to the roofs of the tenements. An aerial ladder caught fire before it could be moved away from the front of the burning warehouse. The. night was bitterly cold and ice formed on ladders and hose wagons. The first alarm was sounded at 3:37 a.m. and District Chief Philip A. Tague ordered a second alarm at 3:39. Five minutes later Deputy Chief Louis C. I. Stickel sounded a third alarm and Chief Henry A. Fox later ordered a fourth alarm. Occupants of the tenements were taken to the City Square police station in police cars and remained there until the fire was brought under control. Firemen worked at the fire until long after daybreak and a detail was left at the ruins with lines of hose for the entire day.


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