Conflagration at Watertown
Watertown, N. Y., was visited at 1.18 p. m., June 18, by one of the worst fires in recent years, which starting in the stable adjoining the old ice house in River street, swept its way almost unhalted along River street, consuming the Burdick Coal Company’s coal sheds, jumping the wide span of Black River, lapping up Brown’s carriage store house, a double dwelling, barns and other buildings and threatening the territory at the junction of Main and Leray streets. Damage estimated at $20,000 was done; 4,000 tons of coal were also burned. The buildings destroyed were all of wooden construction. When the fire department, in command of Assistant Chief Wood, arrived both sides of River street were burning fiercely. The magnitude of the fire appalled the fire department. A call for assistance was sent to Carthage but the flames were under control at 2.50 o’clock, an hour and a quarter after they were discovered. The call was cancelled. Embers set fire to a dozen other buildings that were saved through garden hose and bucket brigades. A wind that seemed almost a gale at times swept across the waters of Black River and imperilled the north side of the city. Firemen were hampered by a scarcity of hose. When those who discovered the fire entered the barn they found it filled with smoke while flames were already shooting into the upper floors. Before they could get to an alarm box the fire broke through and was seen by people some distance away, who turned in the alarm. The entire barn and auxiliary store house, which was formerly an ice house, burst into flames within a few seconds after the fire was discovered. Although the fire department reached the scene within two or three minutes after the discovery of the fire, the flames had already gained possession of the five buildings which were ultimately destroyed. By the time that lines were laid the flames had jumped from the ice house which first caught to the dwelling houses adjoining on both sides and to the main shed of the coal company on the other side of River street. Fanned by a breeze which veered from east to south, the flames swept toward Court street at the start and the firemen were hindered in getting to the heart of the blaze. Owing to the tinderlike construction of the dwelling houses, they offered practically no resistance and were destroyed within ten or fifteen minutes. The flames in the Burdick Compativ main shed spread through the upper part of the building and licked their way across the roof, finally breaking out on the side toward the railroad tracks. The heat was so intense that tor a time buildings on Court street, across the tracks, were threatened. The walls of the shed facing River street burned rapidly, and a lower section fell into the street, letting tons of coal into the street. The department had in service an American-La France motor pumping engine, and two steam fire engines, and through 9,000 feet of hose had 13 streams through 1 1/8 inch nozzles on the fire. Four lengths of hose were destroyed. The gravity water supply, with 75 pounds pressure, was through six and twelve inch mains, with six double hydrants. 600 feet apart. There was a sufficient supply of water. The fire department divided its force one for each side of the river, and manufacturers sent men and hose to assist the department. There was a low water pressure at the commencement, which handicapped the department for a short time.