Firemen Burn Building to Clear Right-of-Way

Firemen Burn Building to Clear Right-of-Way

Firemen are paid for extinguishing fires. And, then once, in a blue moon, they are compensated for starting fires.

In New Haven, Conn., on July 22, with the temperature hitting well over the 90 mark, persons who like to see things burn were given their fill as they watched a two-and-one-half-story house that was built before the American Revolution, go up in flames as New Haven firemen stood by—and enjoyed the fun, too.

Firemen had permission to burn the 16-room structure on Springside Avenue, at the foot of West Rock. The Board of Aldermen authorized the Fire Department to burn the house to make way for a road into the Rockview Housing Project.

The house, owned by the City of New Haven for 75 years, served until last winter as a home for the foreman and workers at the pig farm which had been replaced by the public housing project.

Wrecking the house would have been quite a task, since the house is of particularly sturdy construction. Wooden pegs, and not a single nail, were used in the construction of the old home. Lowest bid for wrecking it was $1,200, and it was decided the Fire Department could do it “cheaper and easier.” “I’ll do it for nothing,” New Haven’s Fire Chief Paul P. Heinz said, “and besides, it’ll give my men some practice.”

July 22 was a perfect day for the fire, Chief Heinz said. The wind was still. The house was primed with plastic waste and gallons of fuel oil. The firemen cut holes in the walls and ceilings and floors with their axes, and broke out window’s to help the fire spread.

In less than a minute after the firemen, under command of Chief Heinz and Deputy Chief Tom Collins, applied the match, the house was a mass of flames. The fire was started at 2 p.m. and at 2:45 p.m., the last chimney fell.

New Haven, Conn., fire fighters prepare to apply torch to this pre-Revolutionary house in the Springside Farms section of New Haven to make way for a new road. City aldermen decided it was cheaper to burn sturdy old dwelling than to wreck it—besides, it gave firemen practice-by-doing.Trees, telephone and power lines, and adjoining property were protected with fog by New Haven, Conn., firemen when they burnd this 75-year-old house at request of city. House was levelled in 45 minutes.

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