Burning of a New Orleans Coffee Plant.
Specially written for FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING.
How the midnight blaze started in the big plant of the New Orleans Coffee company bounded by South Peters, Calliope, Front and Triangle streets, involving a loss of about $200,000, is a mystery. The private watchman who gave the first alarm states that there were three distinct fires, all on the second floor of the building. Work had stopped earlier than usual on the preceding afternoon, because of an electrical storm which stopped the power. The fires were all pulled out, and the place was shut up. Close on midnight the night watchman found a fierce blaze in the packing department on the second floor. He ran downstairs to turn in an alarm, and went back to see if he could beat the fire out. He found that two more had added themselves to the first, one in the molasses department facing Triangle street; the other in a section facing Calliope street. Chief O’Connor was early on the scene and turned in a genera! alarm. Two engines on their way to the blaze were put out of commission. One was upset and had its boiler-pipes smashed. The other, at Triangle and South Peters street, was in a pool of water, when a big, fully charged electrical wire broke and fell into the water, charging it so highlv that the firemen had to desert the engine. There was plenty of water in the fire-cisterns; two engines took suction from the adjoining plant of the National Enameling and Stamping company, and for all the thirteen engines there was enough. Twenty firemen in South Peters street had a narrow escape from death when they received notice to move 40 ft. backwards as the walls of the building were tottering. They had barely time to get out of reach before the walls collapsed from the third story. The network of charged trolley wires was a constant source of annoyance and danger to the firemen, and, till the circuit was cut out, engine No. 13 stood idle. Part of the wall in Triangle street also fell and was followed by a short stretch on Calliope street. For a time it was feared that a large roof-tank would come down; but its supports, which were kept well wetted down by streams from the hose, never gave” way. There were several sharp explosions in the building; drumheads were blown out of small tanks. Fortunately the drumheads did not go high up in the air, and, therefore, no one suffered. In addition to the hose and apparatus of the city department the adjoining National Enameling and Stamping company lent Chief O’Connor 500 ft. of hose. That was run down the side of the building and did good work in saving the warehouse of Swift & Co. opposite. The same company also gave the use of its i,ooo-horsepower pumping engines, which came in very useful. In a little over an hour the fire was under control. The whole of the interior of the building was burned out, only a very dilapidated shell being left, as the accompanying cut shows.
Progress is being made upon the new fire station in course of erection at Dallas, Tex.