DESTRUCTION OF ST. MARY’S ACADEMY.

DESTRUCTION OF ST. MARY’S ACADEMY.

SPECIAL REPORT OF FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING.

Located near the top of Watchung Mountain, about 200 feet above the city of Plainfield, N. J., Mount St. Mary’s College was destroyed by fire on March 2, leaving only a small portion of the crumbling walls to mark the place where the fine structure once stood. Chief T. O. Doane, in his report to this journal, says the building was situated in North Plainfield township, so that the telephone message announcing the fire was not received at headquarters in Plainfield until 3.15 a. m., which was fifteen minutes after the fire was discovered. The North Plainfield department was notified at once and Chief Doane dispatched a chemical engine in charge of Captain Daly and two men to the scene, himself following in his auto. Chief McCulluch, of North Plainfield, rung in a box alarm and started for the fire in a combination wagon. The report says: “It was a terrible pull for horses, after a run of 2 miles, to climb a winding hilly road 1/2 mile long. When we reached the college the sisters and pupils had escaped from the building in scant attire and had taken refuge in the barn some distance away from the main building. Father Baldwin and the janitor, with the aid of some of the lady pupils, had made a brave fight to stop the progress of the fire, but they could not accomplish much with the small hose they had to work with and poor water pressure. When the apparatus arrived the men went to work as best they could in an effort to save some of the property, but with little success, as the structure was a mass of flames before we arrived. Part of the first story, all of the second and third and the roof had fallen in. My men, with the aid of the North Plainfield men, who reached us later, saved a considerable amount of furniture, pictures and statuary, including altar pieces and candelabra. We worked until driven out by the heat and falling timbers, when we started in to try and save the extension wing of the building, but it proved almost a fruitless task with only two chemical streams to fight with. What little water that was available was exhausted several times and we were compelled to carry what we used in pails and coal scuttles from a little brook 500 feet away from the building. After all this work we succeeded in saving the kitchen, laundry and steam plant. The water supply was obtained from a reservoir higher up in the mountain. It was filled by pumping from a spring at a lower level than the college. The water was exhausted soon after we arrived, as the pipes in the building had burned off and the spring was pumped dry. We thought it would be impossible to save the extension, but the men put up a hard fight and succeeded. The college was three years old. The main building was 230×60 feet and wing 30×20 feet. It was three stories high and basement. The outer walls were concrete, 21 inches thick, and faced with marbleized stone, while the upper walls were 18 inches thick The hall and corridors and main cross walls were of concrete 20 and 18 inches thick, respectively. The fire, which started in the tower, was discovered by one of the tutors about 3 a. m. and, as stated above, it was stopped at the kitchen in the extension. The work of fighting the flames lasled five hours from the time the telephone alarm was received at 3.15 a. m. There were two men, 30 tutors, and 140 pupils in the building at the time, but all escaped without injury. A 3-inch standpipe and some 11/2-inch hose were the only means provided to protect the property and a fire drill was regularly practiced. The apparatus employed were a Holloway two-tank, 60gallon chemical engine and an American LaFrance two-tank, 35gallon combination wagon. The building was valued at $230,000 and contents $60,000. The loss on buildings is $170,000 and on contents, consisting of pictures, furniture and thirty pianos, $60,000. The illustrations show the exterior of the building t w o inside views and the standing wall and columns in front of the structure. At the main entrance was a heavy roof over the supporting columns, with massive yellow pine timbers, and in a niche above the door was a statue of Saint Mary made of a combination of cement and other material. Around this figure the flames rolled in a great volume and so thick that it could not be seen. When the fire burned out it was found standing in the same position apparently uninjured, and this was regarded as a miracle con- sidering the damage done to the solid pillars and walls on both sides.” From the substantial manner in which the building was constructed it may seem remarkable that it was so badly damaged. This, however, may be accounted for by the inflammable nature of the contents. The cracks in the heavy masonry walls clearly indicate the prolonged and excessive heat that must have prevailed to bring about this condition. Both Chief Doane and Chief McCulluch are certainly entitled to much credit for the efficient work thev performed under such trying circumstance. The half-tone illustrations were made from original photographs furnished by Chief Doane to this journal. Last week a press report of the fire was given while awaiting the more detailed account printed herewith.

FRONT VIEW OF RUIN OF MOUNT ST. MARY’S AQADEMY, SHOWING UNIN JURED STATUE OVER ENTRANCE AFTER FIRE.ST. MART’S ACADEMY, PLAINFIELD, BEFORE FIRE.

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