GREATER NEW YORK FIRE GOSSIP.
Mr. Louis Kindling, fire commissioner of Milwaukee, Wis., was present at Wednesday’s meeting of the board of fire commissioners. He has been investigating the New York fire department, and will confer with Chief Bonner about the pipe line system suggested for this city.—The need of a third deputy fire chief for that part of the city above the Harlem river is imperatve.— Eire Commissioner Bryant, of Brooklyn, has received a well deserved letter of thanks from J. J. Snyder & Sons, of 55 and 57 Grand street,for the good work done by engine companies Nos. 48 and 49 and hook and ladder company No. 22, at the recent fire on their premises. Owing to the excitement prevailing at the time,the alarm was not sent in promptly, so that the flames, which were first discovered in a storeroom for oils in tanks, were burning fiercely. When the firemen faced the blaze,these tanks were afire;
but (says the letter) so well did they perform their duty that the wood partition immediately behind and not six inches distance from the tanks, and the only barrier between the oil room and the main store, remains almost intact. Since the occurrence we have had opinions volunteered from many who are well qualified to speak on the subject, and they all pronounce it to be the most creditable piece of work of the character in a frame building that has ever come under their notice. We cannot refrain from also alluding to the thorough discipline of both officers and men, the intelligent and prompt, but silent obedience of orders, and the absence of the wholesale and unnecessary destruction of property which usually is calculated on.
The trial of George W. Holt, a prominent insurance adjuster in this city for aiding and abetting the escape of Samuel Milch, indicted for incendiarism, is exciting gr.-at interest. Holt has hitherto born a high reputation. The convicted firebug Milch,whose escape Holt had tried to effect to cover his guilt, was examined. He gave evidence as to his connection with Louis Gordon’s fire at 21 1-2 Walker street and, he himself and Holt were co conspirators for the purpose of mulcting insurance companies. When Milch had heard that he and Gordon had been indicted for that fire, he sent for Holt and said he was about to surrender. Holt told him to wait until Max Grauer’s trial was over, and, giving him $200, advised him to go to Brooklyn and live in a flat, with his (Holt’s) sister, Mrs. Hegeman, as housekeeper. He took a flat on Columbus avenue, this city, putting the name of Mrs.Coleman on the bell. Holt frequently called on him there. In March, 1895, Holt tried unsuccessfully to dissuade him from surrendering himself. Milch was bailed out on $12,000. Holt then recommended him to get away out of the country as quickly as possible and promised to reimburse the bondsman,pay Holt’s passage* give him (500,and allow his wife $5 a week. Holt was afraid as to other fire cases in which he had acted as adjuster with Milch, and got the latter to see some of those who had had fires and tell them what to say to the fire marshal. Holt was particularly worried lest the life-convict Hirschkopf should turn against them. The sickness of one of his children prevented Milch from going to South America. He further testified that Holt burned Milch’s check books, saying if the District Attorney got hold of them they would be evidence enough “ to hang both of them.” Milch also told on the stand of various fires in which, he said, he and Holt had conspired to defraud the insurance companies. Milch swore that he first met Holt at the fire of Abraham Knaupf, No. 75 1-2 Columbia street. “Holt asked me,” testified Milch, “how much the assured would take. He told me that if he would take $200 or $250 he could make out the loss for $440, which we could divide. The amount paid was $300. and we divided $146.” When the witness was asked if he had other similar transactions with Holt, he replied “Yes,” and alleged several such transactions, giving specific details. He told how ‘former Deputy Fire Marshal” I.enz—a policeman said to be implicated in the arson conspiracy—had introduced him to Rosenbaum, a firebug. Fortner District Attorney Nichol, Holt scounsel, read to Milch records of many previous convictions and terms of imprisonment for fraud in Austria and elsewhere, and other crimes of one Samuel Milch or Milcher. The witness “could not remember” whether or not these records referred to him.—There are still twenty-one indictments for arson pending in this county. Five must be dismissed, owing to the disappearance of important witnesses. Some of the defendants have run away and as long as they keep out of the city they will not be molested. Most of the indictments were found two years ago.—During the six days ending with Sunday, October 17. there were 107 fires—sixtysix more than in the corresponding six days of 1896. The loss, including that of the Barber & Currier establishment,will bring the average up above that of last year.—Captain J. J. McNamara, foreman of engine company No. 43 (the fireboat Havemeyer.) died this week at his home in Brooklyn. He entered the department in 1877,—Captain Michael J. Cummerford, foreman of hook and ladder company No. 9 in Elizabeth street, who entered the fire department on October 17, 1870, has been retired on half-pay at his own request. He was made assistant foreman on January 1, 1895, and foreman in less than a year afterwards.—The new fireboat (William L. Strong) will be ready for launching in about two weeks. Mayor Strong has presented her with a set of flags.— After a fire at 3 Abingdon square had been put out, Captain Gregers.of the fire patrol, and two policemen were asphyxiated by gas in a cellar. They were taken to St. Vincent’s hospital where it was several hours before they recovered consciousness — Fireman John Trapp, of the Brooklyn fireboat Seth Low, while working at a fire on board the tug Gracie, get his foot entangled in a hawser. The fireboat backed and Trapp’s foot was snapped off just above the ankle, so that it hung by a mere strip of flesh. It was some time before he could be released.