FIREBUG CAUSES BUSIEST DAY FOR WASHINGTON, D. C., FIREMEN
Baltimore Asked to Send 10 Companies—24 Alarms Turned in Between Midnight and Noon— Man Confesses to Starting Two Blazes in City
WITH fire companies rushing all about the city, companies from outside of the city moving in to render aid, Washington, D. C., was worked up to a feverish heat by the twenty-four fire alarms that came in from midnight to noon of January 17. A patient of the psychopathic ward of the Walter Reed Hospital confessed later to setting two of the fires.
Five of the alarms were of the multiple type and made it necessary to call help from Baltimore, forty miles away, and neighboring towns. Baltimore firemen helped to fight two of the big fires and manned many of the fire stations so that the men there could respond to alarms. Incidently, Baltimore paid a twentyfour-year old debt for in 1904 Washington helped in fighting the big fire in the neighboring city. Ten companies, an ambulance and several deputies made the trip from Baltimore on a special train.
Most of the damage was done at the Woolworth’s store at Pennsylvania avenue between Ninth and Tenth streets northeast. This was the first alarm and came after midnight. Some produce stores also started to burn. Both places were close together and in the section that calls out many companies on the first alarm. The fire appeared to be of ordinary proportions until a gas main broke and forced the firemen to points of safety. A fifth alarm was turned in for this fire, leaving four companies to protect other sections of the city. Companies were diverted from this fire to fight the produce row fire and to answer a number of false alarms that came in at that time.
All night long, there was the constant parade of fire apparatus rushing to various points of the city. In fact, the city did not see so many fire companies at one time, since the collapse of the roof on the Knickerbocker Theatre some six years ago.
Other fires destroyed a grain warehouse in the northeastern section and a wood-working plant in the northwest. Both fires were labeled as of incendiary origin. Police stationed all available men to try to catch the firebug.
The grain elevator fire broke out about four o’clock in the morning and brought out a three-alarm response. The last fire of the group was under control by five a. m.
By means of license plates, the police apprehended John T. Fisher, a psychopathic patient of the Walter Reed Hospital. When arrested he had a fire badge of Fallsburgh, N. Y. The police in Fallsburgh did not know of anybody by that name.
He confessed to the police that he started two of the series of fires that troubled the department. He admitted responsibility for the grain warehouse fire and the fire at the Lank Woodwork Company.