Fire in Flimsy Bunk House Causes Loss of Life

Fire in Flimsy Bunk House Causes Loss of Life

Pittsburgh Railroad Bunkhouse, Commissary and Storeroom Destroyed, with Seven Killed and Ten Injured—Fire Burns Some Time Before Alarm Is Given—Burnings of the Week

Fatal Fire in Railroad Plant at Pittsburgh

A fire resulting in the death of seven persons and injury of ten occurred on September 3 in the yards of the Pennsylvania Railroad at Pittsburgh, Pa., the commissary, storage and bunkhouse of the railroad being destroyed. While the origin of the fire is in doubt, it is thought that it originated in some greasy waste in the building. According to a report received from Third District Chief Frank Loxterman of the fire department, the bunkhouse was 70 x 100 feet and the storage plant 70 x 100 feet, two stories in height, of steel, wood and corrugated iron cona.m., according to Chief Loxterman, and had been burning some time when the alarm was pulled, it having been originally discovered at 4:55 by a watchman who before sending in the alarm ran to the bunkhouse to awaken the sleepers; hence the delay. Chief Loxternan on his arrival at 5 :05 found the building a mass of flames from one end to the other and at once turned in a second alarm, being compelled to run some distance to do so. The second alarm was turned in at 5:09. The total number of men fighting the fire was 101, both turnouts of the second platoon with one American-LaFrance, two Amoskeag, three tractorized steamers, one American-LaFrance triple combination, two Knox combination cars, one American-LaFrance combination car and two Seagrave city service trucks. There were, according to Chief Loxterman, plenty of hydrants, 800 feet being the nearest one from the fire, being four-inch both single and double, with a pressure of 80 pounds. Seven engine steamers were used and after the fire three hydrant streams were thrown to cool off the ruins. There were also three streams thrown by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company’s private department. The nozzles used were 1 1/4 and 1 1/8 inches and 7000 feet of hose were laid, six lengths of which burst during the fire. The men killed and injured were occupants of the bunkhouse which was of frame construction and pretty well oil saturated making a very dangerous combination. In referring to the fire Chief Loxterman writes:

Chief William Bennett, Pittsburgh

“I arrived on the scene of the fire at 5:05 and after a look had to run to 30th Street and Penn Avenue to send in a second alarm at 5:09. (Pretty hard running in boots). The situation looked to me as if there had been an explosion or the fire had been burning a good while before the alarm had been sent in. All of the injured men had been taken away before I arrived. To lay one thousand feet of hose up a hillside and over railroad tracks in order to get the first stream on the fire took time and in the meantime the fire, already bad, was getting worse. Some of the men burned to death had not been able to get out of bed and one had jumped to the ground but was burned before he could get away as evidently he was badly injured. All were burned beyond recognition. The storage battery plant, t.he commissary, bunkhouse, storeroom, oilhouse and foundry 500 feet away from the fire up a hillside, besides mail and freight cars, were burned and in some cases the loss being total. The estimated loss was on buildings $48,000, on cars $22,000; on contents $40,000; total $110,000.”

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