In Absence of Chief Richard L. Smith, Deputy Chief Frank G. Jones Was in Charge — Blaze Spread to an Adjoining Residence


AS the result of a delayed alarm, the Duquesne Baking Company’s building, located in Pittsburgh, Pa., and its contents were completely destroyed on the afternoon of September 10, and before the blaze was under control, flames had spread to adjoining buildings.

Twenty-five employees were at work in the one-story brick baking plant, located on Auburn Street, and extending through the block to Tyler Way, in the East Liberty manufacturing and residential district of the city. An explosion took place from some unknown cause, following the discovery of the fire in the rear end of the shipping department and wagon shed, a one-story frame structure adjoining the main building of the baking plant.

So rapidly did the flames spread, following the explosion, that the employees of the plant barely had time to reach the street, without being trapped in the building by the flames.

Upon the arrival of Engine Companies Nos. 8 and 16 and Truck Company No. 8, answering the first alarm from Station 55, at 3:06 p. m., in command of Battalion Chief Fred S. Beckett of the Fourth Battalion, the building of the baking plant was practically a roaring furnace. Flames were spurting out of all the windows and doors in the structure and through the roof, and rapidly spread to adjoining structures. A three-story frame dwelling house was already in flames.

Chief Beckett, upon his arrival at the fire, realized that he had more than a one-alarm fire on his hands. He immediately sent in the three-two (second and third alarm) at 3:12 p.m. calling Engine Companies Nos. 16, 29, 28 and 26 and Truck Company No. 38 and Deputy Chief Frank G. Jones, in command of the Fire Department in the absence of Chief Richard L. Smith, who was then attending the Convention of the International Association of Fire Chiefs at Winnipeg, Manitoba. The second and third alarms were quickly followed by the fourth alarm at 3:16 p.m., which was answered by Engine Companies Nos. 6 and 61. Chief Jones, upon his arrival, took personal charge of the fire fighting and he was assisted by Battalion Chief Beckett. The firemen, after a hard battle for two hours, succeeded in getting the fire under control and stopping further spread of the flames.

Two Views of the Baking Plant Fire General view of the plant from the outsidethe interior of the Duquesne Baking Company, after the fire.

The sales manager of the baking company, told police and firemen, that he had discovered a small fire burning in one of the rear corners of the shipping room and wagon shed. He said he ran for a fire extinguisher and attempted to put out the flames, when an explosion took place which hurled him to his knees. Regaining his feet, he ran from the building and called the police and fire departments by telephone. Engine Company No. 8 and Truck Company No. 8, were just leaving their quarters in answer to a still alarm for the fire, when the first round from Station 655 was coming in on the house gong.

The driver of a delivery truck who had just delivered two car loads of flour to the bakery, stated he was driving his truck out from the loading platform of the baking plant, when he discovered the small fire burning at the end of the wagon shed, and before he could reach the street with his truck, the explosion took place and the bakery immediately burst into flames.

Twelve pumper streams and three hydrant streams were used, with 500 feet of three-inch hose, 6,650 feet of 254-inch and 400 feet of one inch lead line hose, all cotton rubber lined, and 310 feet of ladders.

Ten pieces of motor apparatus, consisting of one 1000-gallon gasoline pumper, five 750-gallon pumpers, one deluge combination hose, turret and water tower wagon, one combination hose and chemical wagon, one city service hook and ladder truck and one 75-foot, four-wheel tractor drawn aerial truck, all of the American-LaFrance type, answered the four alarms of fire. Forty-seven men, including eleven officers, responded. The fire burned for 5 1/2 hours.

The total loss on the baking plant structure and contents, amounted to $78,268, while the estimated total loss on the adjoining dwelling houses and contents was placed at $9,000.

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