HAIRBREADTH ESCAPE FROM FIRETRAP
Although along the line of Amsterdam avenue, Manhattan, New York, there are to be found up-to-date residential and other buildings adequately protected against fire, there are to be seen more that, while nominally flat houses of an inferior class, are so nearly allied to the average tenement house as hardly to be distinguished from it. Their halls are long, narrow and dark; their stairways at the rear are of wood and are ill suited for escape in case of a panic; the dumbwaiters are mere tines, up which the flames rush if a fire breaks out in the basement or -in the lower part of the house; the airshafts (they cannot be styled lightshafts) are admirably adapted to help in the exposure-risk; the fire escapes, as a rule, are built on the Jacob-ladder model, and the approaches from within to the roof by the scuttle may probably comply with the letter, certainly not with the spirit of the law. The ground plan of No. 592. in which a fire took place early in January, affords a good specimen of this style of dwelling. As will be seen from the accompanying diagram and illustration, its lower floor was occupied by a bakery. Its wooden stairway was in the rear of the hall, and crowded into the space beneath it, at the end of the hall, were the accustomed baby carriages and other incumbrances. Just there the fire started (whether set by a firebug or not is doubtful) at a little after two o’clock a. m., and before it was discovered had crept up the stairway and the dumbwaiter to the upper floors. A tenant on the second floor, who had to leave at an early hour for his work, as he opened his door was met by a volume of smoke. He shouted an alarm to the other tenants, shut his own door and got his family out by the fire escape. On the top floor were a dozen or so of women and children all huddled together in thin night clothes on the fire escape, too terrified to move. One man, Rudolph Eyman, made his way across the sill to the window of the adjoining building, and, as one after another of the tenants and children stepped from the escape to the sill, he seized them and drew them to himself and passed them through the window while someone held him round the waist and legs, as is shown in the illustration. A whole family, consisting of a man, his wife and two small children, one an infant of a few months, dashed through the flames and managed to reach the roof, but were badly burned and had to be taken to the hospital. Patrolman Kohlman, an athlete and a former turn-verein instructor, swung himself up the fire escape just in time to save a man and woman, the latter of whom had fainted. One third-floor tenant, finding his escape cut off by the burning stairway, broke out the windows in the rooms looking into the airshaft, the position of which is shown in the diagram, and by means of a plank laid from window to window lifted his wife and three of his children across the intervening space, and had barely time to rush back and carry his young son out of the kitchen through the smoke. Patrolman Kohlman, also, after making several rescues, was barely able to get back across the airshaft, when he fell unconscious from inhaling the dense smoke, and was taken home. The rest of the thinly clad tenants were rescued by the firemen by means of their ladder and the escapes in front and rear.