Firemen Use Shot-Guns to Break Windows at Packing Plant
Heavy Glass Makes Method Necessary to Get Streams on Blaze— Accident to Assistant Chief—Spark Ignites Oil Well—Week’s Fires
A FIRE company in extreme danger with a blazing furnace of fire below them, the assistant chief blown eight feet in the air by an explosion of an ammonia tank and the department working under the severest of weather conditions with zero temperature, besides being compelled to break the heavy glass windows with discharges from shot guns before the streams could be gotten on the fire, were the obstacles that handicapped the Omaha, Neb., fire department in handling one of the most destructive fires in the history of the city on February 14. Fire broke out in the hog killing and dressing building of the Armour & Co. plant at 5:45 o’clock on the ninth floor of building 19, the hog killing and dressing building. When the first apparatus arrived the flames were coming through the top floor windows of the building and quickly ate their way downward through the grease soaked floors consuming the entire interior. From this building it swept into the adjoining one destroying it also and then on into the next structure which also was destroyed. Twenty-one fire companies from Omaha and Council Bluffs, which also assisted at the fire fought a thirty-four hour battle with the flames before they were finally brought under control. The three nine-story buildings were contpleelv destroyed and two others badly damaged. It is said that the fire was caused by a defective motor at the top of an elevator shaft in Section 19 of the plant.
The accident to Assistant Chief Martin Dineen, who was in command of the fire fighting forces of Omaha, occurred when he was on top of (building No. 17 in company with fire company No. 17. The explosion blew a hole in the roof in which Chief Dineen and the company were stationed, but the rest of the men were uninjured. Chief Dineen when picked up was unconscious was carried down a ladder by a fireman where he recovered sufficiently to be able to walk supported on either side to a first aid station nearby. He was ordered to his home, as the fall knocked lose a brace which the chief wore following an accident sustained sometime before, when he was struck by an automobile. The rest of the men on the roof were able to escape in safety.
The explosion shattered the upper two stories of the structure and tons of debris crashed down ami piled up alongside on the railroad tracks. The sound of the explosion was fortunately sufficient to warn two companies of firemen who were below playing streams on the building from the tracks and they gained shelter before the avalanche of brick and water came crashing down. Captain Thomas Casey, of Truck Company No. 3. while on a roof collapsed and was barely saved from sliding off and falling 75 feet to the ground by a member of the fire department, who caught him just in time. Captain Casey had stood at his post holding a frost encrusted hose nozzle from 6 A. M. until nearly 10:30 o’clock when he finally gave way under the strain and sank to the roof. The buildings, which were valued at $300,000, will have to be razed, as they are completely destroyed. Stored on decks of No. 18 building were 6,000 hog carcasses, worth $144,000; 100,000 pounds of lard worth $30,000; and 1,500,000 pounds of sausage. The total loss of the fire was estimated at $1,500,000. The illustration was taken at the height of the fire and shows the men fighting it from the street after they had been driven from the buildings by the intense heat. The severe weather conditions are plainly indicated by the ice-encrusted structure and firemen.