Fire Destroys Paradise Park at Fort George
Fanned by a brisk northwest wind flames swept through the dry wooden buildings at Paradise Park, an amusement resort at Fort George, 205th street, New York City, early last Monday morning and in a few hours left nothing but piles of ashes and debris where the park had stood. Every building in the park was destroyed. The flames spread to Schultheis’s Fort George Park and Casino, a short distance away, and destroyed several buildings there, including the home of the caretaker, whose wife and son were driven out. Sparks were carried by the high wind over the roofs within a radius of more than a mile and tenants ot bulidings were kept busy with buckets preventing the sparks from gaining a hold on the roofs. The Isabella Heimath, a home for aged couples, which is situated in Amsterdam avenue, a short distance from the park, was threatened by the flames for a time. The aged persons in the home were kept quiet, although about fifty of them insisted in leaving the building and going out in the grounds, as they were uneasy inside. The loss was estimated at close to $10O,UUO. Paradise Park suffered from a fire in December, 1911, several buildings being destroyed. It was stated that the park would have been closed at the end of the season when the ground was to be used for building purposes.
Paradise Park was run under the management of Schenk Bros., who also manage Palisades Park further down the river on the Jersey side. Dominick Barnot, the night watchman, discovered the flames shortly after 2 o’clock a. m., in the dance hall of the park, a two-story frame building. By the time he had run to the office and notified Gustave Wagner, a bookkeeper, the flames were shooting high in the air and spreading across the walk to the buildings on the other side. Wagner telephoned to fire headquarters and vacated the office building, the flames having spread there from the dance hall. By the time the firemen arrived the flames had crept up the sides of the rough rider coaster and enveloped the merry-go-round and roller rink. Three alarms were turned in for the blaze, but the firemen were unable to get near the park on account of the intense heat. The sparks which were flying in all directions through the air set fire to “the old ‘mill” building, one of the amusement places along the cast side of Amsterdam avenue. This building was destroyed. At Schultheis’s Casino, Andrew Robinson, the caretaker, saw the start of the fire, and seeing the flames shooting over the direction of the casino, roused his wife and son and got them out of the house. The flames soon caught the casino, burning up the house and merry-go-round there. The firemen prevented it from injuring the plant of the Queen Aeroplane & Motor Co., near the casino. At the Isabella Heimath the sparks set fire to the pagoda and several parts of the fence. In several vacant lots sparks set the grass on fire and little bonfires were starting up in all directions. The Zerrenner farm, a large truck farm in Audubon avenue, suffered badly from the flames. The garden and vegetable beds were scorched and burned and dried up by the terrific heat. The flames shot at times 200 feet into the air, sending sparks flying in all directions. The park, located at one of the highest points in the city, got the full sweep of the strong wind which fanned the flames until they lit up the sky for miles around. There were many residents of Washington Heights who looked with approval on the fire as it swept through the park. For some years there has been much opposition to the resorts at Fort George. Fourteen engines and four ladder trucks, including many pieces of motor apparatus, responded. Assistant Chief Martin made the run from his quarters, a distance of 11 miles in 11 minutes, in his auto.
North Chicago has enrolled a paid fire department of six men and a chief. The men enosen were all experienced firemen and had served as volunteers in the unpaid department when it was established nine years ago. Several extra men have been selected to serve as substitutes or in case of emergency.