HOW NOT TO DO IT AT SEATTLE.
(Special correspondence of FIRE AND WATER.)
Those of your readers who may have visited Seattle will remember that the business and manufacturing district is along a narrow strip, averaging three blocks wide, parallel with the bay, and that from this the streets rise in grades of front fifteen to twenty-five per cent, up hills that reach an altitude of over 400 feet above tidewater. Certain allwise councilmen insisted a few years ago in locating the main engine houses several blocks up these hills, and so we have a city of a hundred thousand population with no fire stations (excepting the fireboat) within the limit of the most dangerous risks. For every fire, great or small, in the district which was burned over in 1889, with a loss of $15000.000, the heavy apparatus must come plunging down these streets at imminent danger of killing or maiming firemen and horses, and, of course, subject to some little delay. During our occasional snowstorms, wide circuits must be made to get down in safety, and all the lower cross streets are traversed by double track electric lines, with cars speeding as fast as they like.
Saturday evening the chemical engine, the hose wagon and the aerial truck were coming down Columbia street hill from headquarters in answer to an alarm. They slackened up at Fourth avenue because of an accident to some harness, and the wagon went ahead: at Third avenue this was struck by a sixty-foot electric car running at least twelve miles an hour, and the other apparatus were barely able to avoid piling into the wreck.
The car went off the track, but pushed ahead forty feet, with Captain D. H. Mclnnis, of engine No. 1, rolling along between the guardboard ahead of the wheels and the brick pavement. Pipeman Chas. W. Gilliam, who was kneeling on the hose putting on his coat, was thrown some distance to the curb. W. B. Kent, driver, had been by the cap tain’s side on the seat, but one witness claims that he went entirely over the car; at any rate he struck the bricks with great force. Lieutenant Fred Gilham managed to save himself by jumping. The horses were cut loose by the shock and rushed on down the hill: at the next street they ran into a closed carriage containing Father Gendreau, the Roman Catholic vicar general of Dawson, who had just arrived from Alaska. In a moment there was a confused mass of wreckage and horses, with the wheels spinning round over all. The priest was much cut and bruised, and, being an old man, is now in a critical condition. His driver was also badly hurt.
Captain Mclnnis was at first pronounced dead, but the-e is now a chance of his recovery; Gilham is also in the hospital, but will recover; Kent hopes to be on duty in a short time. The horses were cut and torn by the carriage glass, but can be saved. The hose wagon was struck at the near front wheel and is very much smashed and splintered; it had not been in service for longer than a month.
It is to be hoped that this catastrophe will hasten the building of the new headquarters building down town. H. W. BRINGHURST.