Difficult Fire to Fight in Indianapolis

Difficult Fire to Fight in Indianapolis

A fire that starts in the cellar and spreads upward by means of the elevator shaft is always a hard one to handle, and that which practically gutted the cloak house of E. O. Langan, at 35 West Washington street, Indianapolis, Ind., was no exception to the rule. The building in which the blaze started was of somewhat peculiar construction and was four-story in front and threestory in the rear. It occupied a space of 40 by 195 feet and was by no means new, having been erected 35 years ago. It was not fire-resistant to any extent and was built of materials that were not of a kind to provoke the spread of the flames. The front was iron, the rest was brick and wood, with brick walls, and in the basement partitions of brick and wood; and as it was in the cellar that the fire broke out these wooden partitions afforded the flames more than food enough to render the fire a hot one. Trusting, as it may be supposed, either to luck or to the iron front and brick walls, the proprietors of the cloak house had taken no care to equip the interior with sprinklers or anything more than one or two small chemical extinguishers, which proved of but little use when the flames once got a firm hold of the inflammable stock that filled the various floors. As to facilities for exit, all that was provided for the safety of 35 employes was a fire escape in the rear. An employe discovered the fire at about 4:30 p. m. It had broken out in the basement, as is supposed, from a defective electric wire. It burned for quite an hour and a half, and after a hard fight was stop; ed on the third floor rear. The alarm was sent in by telephone and brought to the scene a first size Extra Metropolitan engine, from which one heavy stream was thrown. Ten streams were also employed from three 4-way and seven 2-way hydrants, between each of which was a distance of 200 and 300 feet. The 11 streams thrown at one time from engine and hydrants, the pressure at which was 100 pounds, were through 1 1/4-inch nozzles, the main in front of the 100-foot wide street being one of the city’s direct pumping system and 24 inches in diameter. During the course of the fire were used 5,000 feet of cotton ruber-lined house, which stood the pressure admirably, not one length bursting during the 90 minutes that the hose was in service. The department found no hindrance in lighting the fire, nor did it employ any special fire tools. The apparatus already mentioned was amply sufficient, as, also, was the water supply. The loss to the stock was heavy, and practically the building was gutted up to and including the third floor.

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