DEVASTATING FIRE AT WESTFIELD
A fortunate shift of wind saved Westfield, Chautauqua Co., N. Y., or at any rate, the major portion of it, from destruction by a fire, which, as it was, destroyed the Minton House, ten places of business and three flats and caused damage amounting to $75,000. Of unknown origin, the fire started in a small garage, in the rear of the hotel. This was all on fire, and the flames had communicated to the hotel, when the firemen from Jamestown arrived. The buildings, all old, except two, and built of wood, were two and three stories high and had no special fire protection. Westfield relies on hydrant pressure for fire protection, but unfortunately, as our correspondent, Chief Fred. H. Wilson, of the neighboring city of Jamestown, informs us, the large reservoir, which holds the fire reserve, had just undergone the process of cleaning and contained very little water when the fire broke out, so that the ordinary hydrant pressure of 90 to 100 lbs. was reduced to 20 lbs. and the firemen could do very little to oppose the progress of the flames.
The firefighting force, mustered by Chief Theodore Burns, consisted of two hose carts, a hose wagon and hook and ladder truck, and help was asked from Brocton and Fredonia, both of which places sent hose companies and their equipment, but owing to lack of water they could do nothing. There were five 6-inch double hydrants in close proximity to the hotel. They were set about 250 feet apart, but for lack of sufficient pressure they were almost useless. About 2,500 feet of cotton, rubber-lined hose was on hand and was laid as quickly as possible. One section burst during the height of the fire and two sections were burned. Eight streams from 3/4-inch nozzles were played on the fire, and just when it seemed, according to our informant, that it would attack the brick building that had been mainly instrumental in keeping it in check, the wind shifted and swent the fire back over the burned district, so that really it burned itself out. The burned properties included, in addition tothe hotel, a blacksmith shon livery stable, restaurant and several barns, the insurance on the buildings being $19,800 and on contents $15,900.
Paper Mill Fire at Downingtown.
Complete destruction followed the outbreak of a fire in the S. A. Bicking Paper Company’s mill at Downingtown, Pa., which jeopardized the lives of some thirty employes and resulted in the death of a young man who was helping the firemen. A locomotive engineer, on a passing train, saw flames coming from the engine-room at 3:30 a. m., and blew an alarm. The plant was running day and night, and the flames spread so rapidly that it was as much as the employes could do to escape from the burning building, some having to jump from second-story windows. When the two local fire companies arrived, the building was a mass of flames. Neighboring towns and farmers from the surrounding country came to the aid of the local people and the Brandywine creek furnished plenty of water, so that efforts to prevent the spread of the flames were successful, although three different times the adjacent Methodist church took fire and the flames on each occasion were extinguished. A rain of blazing pitch from the roof of the burning building made it difficult for the firemen to get near it. The young man who lost his life was killed by an iron chimney stack falling on him. The loss occasioned by the fire is placed at $100,000, partly covered by insurance.
Destructive Fire in Philadelphia.
A monetary loss estimated at $50,000 and five lives sacrificed, are the results of a fire in a shirtwaist factory in a 4-story building in Philadelphia. It is supposed to have been caused by short circuiting of the electric motor in the elevator, it having started in the elevator shaft, on the fourth floor. The fire spread so rapidly that the employes in Joseph Chachkin’s shirtwaist factory, on the fourth floor, were compelled to jump from the windows, before the firemen arrived, and four girls, including a daughter of the proprietor, and a man were killed by the leap, another daughter and several others being badly injured. But for the strike of shirtwaist operators, which had greatly reduced Chackin’s force, the fatalities would have been more numerous. Although the flames spread rapidly, all the other occupants of the building escaped in safety. It is claimed that there was no reason for the inmates jumping from the windows, as the firemen responded quickly to the alarm and were on the ground with their apparatus a few minutes after the gong sounded.