Chicago’s Dangerous “Loop”
The “union loop” in Chicago, according to a correspondent, is hounded on the south by Twenty-second street, on the west by Ashland avenue, on the north by Chicago avenue, and on the east by the lake. No spot in Chicago, possibly no section ot any other city in the world, it is claimed, is more densely packed with people than this “loop,” and probably none is worse protected against loss of life by fire. It is said that a conservative estimate of the number of people daily within the limits of this portion of the city is upward of 000,000, the larger number of whom shop, live or work in buildings where, even _____nder better conditions, they might easily fall victims to the flames. Within its limits are crowded big department stores, some scores of hotels of every description, 10-cent lodging-houses, factories, hospitals and department houses. Those living there, working or doing business there, are practically at the mercy of a fire unless, in addition to engines and hose, there was a good supply of ladders on hand. Instead of the nine hook and ladder trucks (and these, it is stated in one of the city newspapers, not ot the newest make), there is the most crying need for considerably more, since if there were a blaze—say, in a Van Buren street lodging-house—the spread of the flames would be very rapid, and although there are escapes aplenty, yet experience has, over and over again, shown that in the case of congested buildings these are rushed and become crowded. Fatalities then occur, even if the escapes themselves are of the most approved style and strong enough to bear up against the unusual pressure. A four-eleven alarm might, probably would, be sent out, which would bring eight more hook and ladder trucks, but some of these would have to travel a long distance; and, under the best of conditions, the fire escapes would long before have been besieged by a panic-stricken crowd, the weakest of whom would be injured in the rush; others would leap down to their death; a comparatively limited few would be carried down by the firemen. At some of the windows only would there be fire escapes; at others there would be none; for others there would not be fire ladders enough to serve. In the same way there may be a difficulty over the engines, some of which may be stationed two or three blocks away, and will find it impossible to pump water on the flames unless reinforced by other engines. The situation would be still further aggravated if, as might easily happen, another fire should break out in another part of the “loop,” distant probably some blocks off, but as full of danger to life and limb as the other. Chief Seyferlich is well aware of all these perils, but he is powerless in the matter.