Gloversville Leather Mill Destroyed

Gloversville Leather Mill Destroyed



A jumbled mass of twisted iron pipe, broken machinery, charred embers and skins, marks the site of the G. Levor & Company leather dressing mill on Woodside avenue, Gloversville, N. V., as the result of the disastrous blare which broke out in the plant Saturday, Nov. 15, at 4.35 p.m. The fire for a time threatened the entire southern and eastern section of the city, completely wiped out the plant and reduced to ashes one of the largest shoe dressing establishments in the city and causing a loss which will mount into several hundred thousand dollars. The fire department fought the flames for two hours before they were under control and were then forced to remain on duty with streams for twenty-four hours before the danger was entirely removed. It was the most disastrous fire Gloversville lias known in many months. The fire threw the entire city into a turmoil of excitement besides being a menace for over an hour to thousands of dollars worth of property in the close vicinity to the mill. Coining in the late afternoon with large crowds on the streets, and the mills and factories just disgorging their employes, the blaze drew many spectators until it seemed half the population of the city was gathered within seeing distance of the mill site. About the seething mill excitement was intense, with flames shooting many feet into the air, burning embers tile size of a derby bat falling as thick as snowflakes about adjoining property, an occasional explosion in the midst of the furnace of flame, the loud, dismal wail of the factory whistle attd the shouts of the firemen and the crowd at each new turn in the progress of the fire.

The first intimation of fire came at 1,35. when an alarm was sounded from box 7-1. the I.evor mill. The firemen made a remarkably quick run to the scene. In the meantime telcphonic information from the mill and word was given out that the fire was but slight and could be handled by the employes. However, in a couple of minutes Chief .51axson and his men arrived on the scene, and it was apparent that a disastrous blaze was started. A second alarm, summoning the entire lighting facilities of the city, was sounded and the big battle with the flames was on. The fire originated in the southwest section of the big mill in the wool picking and drying department, and tor a time the employes fought it with the factory’ hose. There was a goodly quantity of inflammable material scattered about the room, however, and along with the grease and oil with which the floors were saturated the flames found good food and swept beyond control of the willing employes. With incredible swiftness the fire had burned enough so that the steady west wind could aid in the work of destruction. The fire swept on through the mill towards the east, enveloping three floors filled with inflammable material. About midway through the building the fire struck into the elevator shaft and, with a hiss that could be heard for blocks, it started on with renewed energy. By this time the flames were shooting in all directions, the wind carrying them high into the air and many feet over Woodside avenue. With the fire at its height the adjacent property was seriously threatened and garden hose was brought into play upon the exposed sections while lines of the fire department’s hose were trained on some of the buildings until the danger had passed. The air was rent with the loud dismal wail of the factory whistle. It is thought that a falling pipe fell across the whistle cord in some manner, and half opening the whistle valve, permitted the whistle to sound but not to its full volume. The sound was more of wail than anything else, emanating from the seething furnace, it produced an uncany effect, and the timid ones in the crowd shivered. The wail continued for many minutes and added to the general din about the section.

The Gloversville water system is gravity, and through the 50-foot wide street on which the illfated factory is situated runs a four-inch and an eight-inch main. The dial at the water works office showed that the high pressure had been put on inside of five minutes after the first alarm, and there would have been plenty of water had not the open water pipes in the mill allowed tons of water to get away. However, ten streams were maintained from six fire plugs for more than an hour when the flames were under control. One stream was continued during the night and until late in the afternoon of the following day. Of the 3,100 feet of cotton, rubber-lined hose, every section proved good. Aside from the regular implements only a Glazier nozzle was brought into play. The building, a wooden structure, covered a ground space of 70 by 240 feet, was four stories high and about 25 years old. As about 200 people were employed, the structure was equipped with fire escapes and 50 feet of 2Mi-inch hose attached to standpipe. In commenting on the fire Chief R. A. Maxson writes: “The first alarm came from box 7-1. located at the Levor mill, at 4.35 Saturday afternoon, and the apparatus at stations 1 and 2 responded. W hen they arrived the flames were coming from the windows of the first, second and third floors on the east side of the building. A second alarm was sounded at 4.40, calling the entire department. Within ten minutes after the first alarm the fire had spread to all parts of the mill, and it is reported that the sprinkling system controlling the part of the mill where the fire started was closed to make connections to cover a new addition to the mill that had just been built. The fire started in the wool picking machine, being caused by friction of some hard substance in the wool. From the picking machine the fire was carried by the machinery over the dryer to a large suction pipe that carried the wool to the third floor, thus causing the rapid spread of the flames. The valves controlling the sprinkling system were opened as soon as possible after the fire was discovered, but the fire had too much start and the sprinklers had no effect upon it. The department was handicapped by low pressure of water, caused by the opening of so many sprinkler heads and the breaking of pipes. From the eight-inch main there was a six-inch pipe to the sprinkler valve in the mill, and from the fourinch main on Woodside avenue a four-inch pipe to the sprinkler valve that controlled the sprinklers in the front part of the mill. On the sixinch pipe there was a post valve located about one foot from the mill, but on account of the intense heat it was impossible to close this valve. The valve on the four-inch pipe in Grove street was under the ground and could not he closed for some time. The hydrant nressure under normal conditions is 12b pounds. When the fire was at its worst the hydrant pressure was on’v 4ft Dounds owing to the large volume of water flowing unrestricted into the mill through the broken pipes.

“Streams were used from the hydrants as follows as shown in diagram: No. 1 D.TT. streams; No. 2 D.H., two streams; No. 3 D.H . two streams; No. 4 D.H.. two streams: No. 5 D.FI., one stream; No. 6 D.H., one stream.”

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