Fire Destroys Large Factory in Middletown.
Middletown, N. Y., sustained its must serious damage from ﬁre recently. when its principal manufacturing plant was wiped out, causing a monetary loss of from $100,000 to $125,000 and possib1y a discontinuance of the industry in that city. The building was a six-story brick structure, owned and occupied New York Piano Key Manufacturing Company. The main building covered an area of 200×200 feet and there was an annex feet and three stories high, which was occupied by employes of the company, with their families. It was about 7:42 p. m. when the alarm was sent into the tire department headquarters. The seven single laps of the fire alarm system called the various firemen throughout the city to attention, and for a few moments the telephone wires to the various fire houses were kept hot. trying to find out the location of the fire or the cause of the taps, which many thought were a breaking of the circuit. However, a moment after the system was working right, and box 17 sounded, calling the firemen to fight the worst fire in the history of the city. The tallest factory building in this city was in flames and burning fiercely when the firemen arrived. At the side of the building was a four-story addition, occupied by six families, and the fire when discovered appeared to be in the rear of this part, between the two buildings. In the meantime the firemen on duty at the fire houses were awaiting some word as to whether there was a fire or not. Driver Doremus, of the Excelsior Hook and I adder Company, was standing ready to put his team to the truck when a small Boy came running down and told him that the piano factory was cm fire. He immediately hooked up and started for the fire, followed closely by the Monhagens, who were standing in front of their house. They arrived at the scene at the same time as the Phoenix, who had also been notified, and at that time the smoke on the street was so dense that the drivers of the two trucks could not see each other. The fire was then breaking out of every window on the fifth and sixth floors, and was also burning fiercely in the office, on the Railroad avenue side on the ground floor. It was said afterward that the reason for the rapid spread of the flames was because of a stairway, which afforded a flue for the fire, and also an elevator shaft, through which the fire ran both to the top and bottom. Charles St. John, the night watchman at the plant, probably was the first to see the fire. He said that he was working in the boiler room when he happened to look out of the window and saw the flames on what he thinks was the third floor, hut of this he is not sure His son ran and sent in an alarm from box 124 As fast as the apparatus arrived the firemen attacked the flames, under the direction ot Chief diaries Higham Every available hydrant was brought into use. and the men stuck to their task until the walls began to topple and fall, leaving the staunch corners of the building standing alone. When the walls fell there was a sigh of relief, for then the danger of a still greater conflagration “as past. telegraph poles were ablaze, the ties under the Erie’s tracks were burning and the railroad bridge over the Draper brook was ablaze, making necessary the holding of trains hound east and west when Agent J. M. Wright noted the danger. As the walls fell the firemen were forced to run, leaving behind a line of hose, which was burned, though it had been swelled for a time with water coursing through it. Wires ablaze, hut intact, swayed under the vollevs of falling material as the flames burned through the roof. Frequent explosions of gaseous material were heard from within the building, but they did no damage. Cornices fell six stories and finally the floors of the main structure collapsed, one after another, and fell to the cellar, the fire having blown up the elevator shaft with the speed of a fiend. First the annex roof dropped in. Then the walls crumpled, and nearby houses were considered no longer in danger. While the multitude waited a section of the main factory, six stories high, buckled and fell, and thus the main walls were shattered and crushed to the ground. I hen the spectacle was over. The glare of the flames was lessened, th extreme heat was subdued and Chief lligham and his men rested. The origin or the fire is a mystery. It seemed to start in a shaving bin. where suction draws the little curls from the dry lumber used in the plant the bin being located in the rear of the big factory—for early arrivals on the scene declare that this structure was a mass of flames first, though those who approached from the Railroad avenue side of the building say that the three-story annex just west of the main factory. in which five families lived, seemed to be the first of the structures stricken to succumb to the flames. Chief lligham estimated that about 1,000 feet of hose was destroyed. He notified Mayor Cox of this fact at once, and the mayor telegraphed immediately for new hose. Ihe company carried, as near as can be ascertained to-day. $74,000 insurance on the building, stock and fixtures.