Electro-Static Spark Causes Large Fire
A spark from a workman’s hand touched off a fire in one of the large factory buildings of the Russell Manufacturing Company at Middletown, Conn., causing a loss of about $500,000. The Russell Company, the city’s largest industry, employs about 1,500 persons and manufactures brake linings, factory belts, and cartridge belts. An employee said that friction built up an electrostatic charge on his hands and caused a spark just as he was dipping a fabric belting into a vat of gasoline.
The blaze, which started in a treating room where various sorts of fabrics were coated with a gasoline and rubber mixture, fed on the inflammable substance and, within a few minutes, spread to every corner of the two-story, concrete structure, which contained 28,000 square feet of floor space. All of the employees in the building made their way to safety through a dense curtain of smoke. The only two casualties, two employees, were severely burned about the arms and forearms when they beat out the flames on their clothing.
More than 100 firemen from local and nearby companies under the command of Fire Chief Michael J. Lawton, Middletown, fought the fire for nearly three hours. It was not until the roof and floor collapsed that the blaze was brought under control. It was one of the most stubborn fires in the history of this city.
Upon the arrival of the fire companies, flames were leaping 200 feet in the air and fear was held that a conflagration would result. Residents for blocks around fled from their homes.
THOMAS F. MAGNER