Fire in Hotel in Birmingham
Seven firemen of the Birmingham Ala., department were injured by an explosion in a paint and hardware store during a recent fire which practically destroyed the building, which was occupied by the Windsor Hotel, Robertson Hardware Company and a restaurant in that city. Two of the hotel guests lost their lives and five other men were injured. The fire originated in the rear of the paint and hardware store, in the stock room, and the cause is unknown. The fire was discovered at about 4.50 A. M., and burned two hours. The first alarm came in at 4.58 A. M., by telephone, and the rear end of the building was burning briskly when the department arrived. The building was erected 29 years ago, and was three stories in height, and was constructed of brick and wood and was 75 by 100 feet. The department was hindered in handling the blaze by no rear entrance. It was about 20 minutes after the alarm was turned in that the explosion of chemicals occurred in the paint store and at which all the injured firemen received their burns. .As soon as they arrived the firemen rushed into the paint shop with a line of hose and found themselves in dense smoke. Finding that he could not combat the flames from the inside and fearing an explosion, Chief Middleton ordered his men out. Just then the explosion came. About 12 firemen who were in the building were knocked down. Several who were standing in the doorway were hurled aside by the terrific impact. Assistant Fire Chief Aiken found himself cut off, while attempting to rescue a man, J. W. Burney. From the roof Aiken heard the cries of a man, whom he could not see through the smoke. He rushed up the fire escape to the roof of the hotel and peered below. He could still hear the cries but could not see the man who said he was hanging to the window ledge on the third floor by his hands. Clouds of smoke belched from the windows on the first and second floors. Chief Aiken lowered his rope and the man caught it. He hoisted him almost to the roof, and then Burney cried that he could not hold on. He turned loose and fell to the ground, three stories, breaking both ankles, and badly wrenching his back. Aiken made his way to an alley and called down for help, instructing his companions to proceed to the American Trust building and let a ladder down across the alley between the American Trust building and the hotel. The aerial truck arrived before the firemen had a ladder in position and they raised their aerial ladders and the chief came down. The department was highly praised for its work in preventing the spread of the fire. The department had in service two Metropolitan engines, one Ahrens-Fox; and two American La France pumpers, and eight hose wagons. Fighting the flames from every vantage point the firemen three streams, 16 engine and five hydrant. Nine 6-inch double hydrants, 200 to 400 feet apart, with 95 pounds pressure, furnished sufficient water.