Double Flooring Stops Warehouse Fire
Flames Fail to Penetrate Heavy Double Planking When Wharf Burns—Spark from Switch Locomotive Causes One of the Worst Fires of Kind Seattle Ever Had—Fires of Week
One of the worst wharf fires in the history of Seattle, Wash., occurred on July 9, it is thought from a spark from a switch engine falling through open planking to cresote piles in the East Water way Company on Harbor Island, where it smouldered for some hours and finally burst into flames. The first alarm was sounded at 1:20 P. M., and Chief George M. Mantor as soon as he saw the conditions that confronted him, sent in a second alarm and followed it with the rarely used 3-11, calling out practically all of the fire apparatus in the city, including engine 1, 3, 25 and 2; hose and truck companies Duwamish and Snocompanies Nos. 19, 36, 31, 10, companies Nos. 14, 29 and 26, Nos. 7, 10 and 1. Fire boats qualme and chemical company No. 1 also were sent. Chief Mantor was assisted by William H. Clark, first assistant chief; George Marlow, second as sistant chief; W. J. Hunter, J. W. Carmichael, William J. Carr and H. J. Hale, battalion chiefs. The plant of the company occ u p i e d twenty-five acres of ground and in all $2,000,000 worth of property were endangered by the fire. Fortunately the wind, a stiff northwest breeze, was blowing away from the company’s most valuable properties and the most damage was done to the wharf attached to the warehouse. While the fire boats fought the fire from the east waterway the remainder of the department drove the flames back to the west side of the warehouse to the open wharf. At one time the men of the fire department were strung for about 1,500 feet along a wall of cresoted piles and oil soaked planking, which was burning fiercely.
The hardest fight was waged along the narrow track line separating the first and second rows of transit sheds. The men of the department fought to prevent the fire from leaping to the secondary line of sheds in which huge quantities of canned salmon and other valuable cargoes were stored. Three hundred men were dispatched from the United States Dreadnought Idaho, anchored in the Seattle Harbor, to assist Chief Mantor and his fire department. These men, from seven divisions of the ship’s tire-and-rescue party, all trained tire-fighters, according to Chief Mantor, did splendid work in assisting the firemen. One instance of the sailors’ work was carrying throng the smoke-filled warehouse to a place of safety a $25,000 hydroplane.
The fire burned very fiercely under the long docks and under warehouse No. 2, but in few cases did it penetrate the floor of the warehouse or heavy top planking of the dock. This undoubtedly was an important element in saving the warehouse from destruction. In explaining this fact the company’s officials pointed out that there is a double flooring, first the flooring of the warehouse itself and of the dock and then under that another flooring with the timbers laid in the opposite way. Both floors were soaked with bean and other oils, but the double flooring, with the draft from a northwest wind blowing the flames out from under the dock caused the fire to sweep out to the water’s edge and to both ends of the dock. The outer edge of the dock and heavy timbers and piling there were badly charred the whole length of the dock, but the double flooring served virtually as a fire wall. Recognizing the value of the double flooring, the firemen early thrust streams of water under the dock and fought the fire from between floors, as it were. When the flames were nearly extinguished it was seen that the interior of the warehouse was untouched except by water; even piles of salmon in cases were unharmed except by water. Only the side of the warehouse facing the water was badly damaged, the sheet iron on this side being buckled and broken. The dock on this side was badly burned. The lire under the dock, however, was persistent and for hours it smoldered and flared up in spots, particularly near where the fire originally started. There the flames burned low down in a large pile of stacked lumber and defied the firemen’s efforts.
A dramatic incident of the fire was the rescue of the West Ison, a $1,500,000 shipping board freighter, from the end of the dock. As she was endangered by the flames the cables holding her were cut and with tongues of flames leaping out in her direction was towed from the wharf to safety, the only damage being some heated plates in her bow. As she was being taken away from the wharf Captain Walk, her master, leaped through the dense smoke of the dock toward her rail. He missed his jump and had he not been caught by the men on the ship would have fallen into the water where flames leaped out in every direction from under the dock.
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Warehouse Saved in Wharf Fire
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In referring to the work of Chief Mantor and his men, General Manager Green of the East Waterway Company said: “It was the one of the finest and quickest bits of fire fighting I have ever seen.” It is though that the loss will reach about $400,000.