Heavy Loss in Bridgeport Blaze
Photo Courtesy Bridgeport Post
A two-alarm fire roared through the 15-acre Cisco Terminal Company lumber yards at Bridgeport. Conn., on April 22, causing damage estimated by Fire Department officials at more than $500,000. It was the most spectacular blaze in that city in recent years and the most disastrous since the Barnum and Bailey Winter Quarters fire in 1887.
Seven persons, mostly firemen, were injured as wind-swept flames razed the firm’s main mill and storage shed, located on Seaview Avenue, along the city’s waterfront. The shed, 400 by 350 feet, was destroyed, and two loaded barges of coal owned by the C. and O. Coal Company nearby, and vast quantities of lumber, piled throughout the area.
Within 35 minutes of the start of the blaze, first noticed at 5:50 P.M., the mill shop was skeletonized and the Cilco dock adjoining the shop was on fire. Flames spread generally northwest from the main building, driven by strong, shifting winds. Nearly the entire northwest part of the terminal was caught in the path of the fire.
Flying embers threatened scores of structures within a six-block radius of the yards, and ignited the roof of a house at Noble and Berkshire Avenues, two miles away.
Embers and intense heat hampered efforts of the Bridgeport firemen to control the conflagration. At least three barges, in addition to those destroyed, were damaged by fire and cast adrift in a channel fronting the terminal. Numerous small shacks in the yard were partially consumed by flames.
The first alarm was sounded at 5:50 P.M., from the Company’s private box, 519. The second alarm at 5:54, was radioed to Headquarters by Asst. Chief George A. Butler, enroute on the first alarm.
Engines 2, 5 and 6, Truck 6, and Squad 6 responded on the first alarm. The second alarm brought Engines 1, 4, and Truck 5 to the scene. Fire Chief Martin J. Hayden was one of the first officers at the fire and took immediate command.
When firemen arrived, they found flames leaping across the 400-foot front of the main shed which contained prefabricated houses, machinery, a huge crane, a lumber carrier and quantities of supplies. In scarcely one minute the flames shot 100 feet into the sky and were visible from all parts of the city.
From the shed the blaze spread to the dock, firing two barges. Firemen halted the fire just short of a building containing highly inflammable oil and glue, located in the northwest corner of the yard.
The Navy’s ELSM (Electronic Landing Ship Mechanized) under command of Lieut. Ralph Hamilton, moored alongside the Cilco dock and directed 14 hose lines into the blaze. Personnel from the ship were aided in the firefighting by the crew of the Navy LST, training vessel, in command of Commander Frederick F. Daley.
According to Fire Chief Martin J. Hayden, the fire may have been caused by a short circuit in electrical equipment in the main mill and storage building. Recall was sounded at 8:06 P.M.