FIREBUG BLAMED FOR BLAZE IN ISLIP ASYLUM FOR INSANE
Fire Started in Attic Which Was Free From Material or Occupancy—Apparatus From Nearby Villages Responded to Alarms
ELEVEN firemen and five other persons were injured while fighting a blaze that started in the State Hospital for the Insane at Islip, Y., and caused $250,000 damage. Since the fire started in an attic that was free from material of any kind, it is believed that the blaze was of incendiary origin. Flames were discovered about 2 p.m., and blazed for three hours before they were put under control.
Fourteen fire companies from nearby villages and towns fought the fire in the three-story dormitory. There were about six thousand patients in the hospital and most of them quietly watched the fire-fighters at their work. Twenty attendants, some of them women, were trapped on upper floors of the dormitory while others trapped on the third floor escaped by leaping into nets stretched by firemen. The persons caught remained orderly and awaited their turn to make the twenty-five-foot jump into the net held by firemen.
The calls for help brought apparatus from Central Islip, Islip Terrace, East Islip, Islip and Bay Shore. Later apparatus came from Patchogue, Sayville, West Sayville and Babylon. Most of the apparatus within a radius of about fifteen miles rushed to give any possible assistance.
The injured persons were taken into the treatment ward of the hospital.
Dr. G. A. Smith, superintendent of the institution, said that while he believed the fire to be of incendiary origin, he had no suspicion against any attendant or patient. He believes the work is of some person outside the hospital. The blaze started while firemen were fighting a brush fire some distance from the hospital, so that the incendiary could have ample time to get under way before the firemen responded.
The destroyed building was of brick construction and was considered virtually fireproof. The institution had suffered from other fires, one early in the morning of April 13 when ninetytwo inmates were driven from their beds. Other fires occurred last November, and about a year ago a fire was discovered in a ward. Oily rags and waste have been discovered from time to time in spots that would have been dangerous had the material been ignited.