Heavy Loss in Furniture Fire at Los Angeles
Hampered by dense clouds of smoke and fighting what at times seemed a losing battle, 150 of the firemen of Los Angeles, Cal., under Acting Chief G. H. O’Donnell, fought a stubborn blaze in the Brent Furniture Company’s building, 720 South Main street, which burned for 10 hours and threatened to destroy other valuable property in the vicinity. The fire occurred on the night of October 4, from what cause is unknown. It started in the basement of the Brent establishment, a four-story brick furniture warehouse, 15 years old, fronting 100 feet on South Main street, and covering a space of 60×150 feet in all, and spread to the Gordon-Jenkins store next door. The first alarm was pulled at the nearest box at 7.12 p. m. and was followed by second, third and fourth alarms, as the acting chief saw the extent of the fire. This called out 10 steam pumpers, 3 Gorhams and 1 LaFrance, 1 aerial, 2 city service trucks, a water tower and a squad wagon. When the first apparatus arrived the fire had gained considerable headway, and the entire building was belching smoke. The pumpers did good work, there being 14 double hydrants available, set only about 175 feet apart, and with a pressure of 70 pounds, supplied by an 8-inch main. In all 15 engine streams were thrown upon the burning buildings, using from 1 1/2 to 2-inch nozzles. The pressure was ample to furnish good plug streams. 14,350 feet of cotton rubber-lined hose was laid, only one length of which burst during the fire. Three turret pipes rendered valuable service in fighting the fire with big streams. The varnish-covered furniture and the hair mattresses threw off such a dense smoke that the firemen were compelled to wear smoke helmets and found these devices of great assistance in their work. This smoke made the work of locating the fire difficult, and when the firemen arrived and attempted to enter the burning basement they were driven out and had to use oxygen helmets, before the fire could be fought at close quarters. The flames meantime, floor by floor, worked their way to the top of the Brent building and finally burst through the roof. When the fire was at its height the firemen, unable to place ladders against the burning building, climbed up an electric sign on an adjoining structure and leaped across to Brent’s. Thus they fought the fire stubbornly, and finally conquered it before it had gained much headway in the Overell Furniture Company’s building next door. Two women were injured, one knocked down by firemen hurrying to the fire, the other overcome by smoke. Two firemen also were injured, one, Fred Kirchner, quite badly by falling through a hole to the basement; the other, S. E. Chapman, injured his ankle by a fall from a ladder. Several were overcome by smoke. The loss on the Brent building was $71,000, on contents $70,000. The Goodan-Jenkins Company lost $30 000 on building and $20,000 on contents, while the Overell Company lost $15,000.