Incendiary Fires at Everett, Wash.
The facts concerning the unusual series of incendiary fires which occurred in Everett, Wash., early in August, are detailed by the special informant of FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING as follows:
The first fire started about 3 o’clock in the afternoon in the basement of a blacksmith shop next to the fire headquarters station. Being incendiary, oil was used freely in hay and, even though this shop stood only two feet from the station wall, by the time the hitch was made and the apparatus out of the house to the hydrant across the street the whole place was a mass of fames. Adjoining the blacksmith shop and running the full length of the half block south was a row of livery stables, and finally another shop of two stories and basement, about 60 by 80 feet. The courthouse stood across the street, on about a 12 foot terrace, and no doubt caught tire from the electric power wires, which were broken and short-circuited when the fire reached the corner shop at the south end of the block. In the accompanying illustrations are shown views showing department headquarters, next to which the fire originated, and of the ruined courthouse. In the first fire five buildings were lost, including the courthouse, and the fire station was damaged badly. The fight was to keep the fire from getting through the fire station to the business district, only a block away, to which the wind threatened to carry it.
About 8:30 o’clock in the evening, while the department was still working on the ruins of the courthoUse, the incendiary’s work was again made manifest by a fire discovered in the rear of a barn in the business center. In this fire a valuable horse was lost, but the actual damage otherwise was small and quickly extinguished with a hydrant line. Next, when picking up from this barn fire, the firemen were called to the rear of a business block to find a small shed in flames, which was quickly extinguished with a hydrant line also.
While getting the apparatus ready for service again an alarm came from a large stable a few blocks from the business center. This fire was serious, and ten horses W’ere lost from a number of 27. The fire was a hard one to handle owing to the quantity of hay stored on upper floor and the close proximity of adjoining buildings and the distance from hydrants. T his building was a two-storv frame affair about 50 by 70 feet.
While working on this large barn fire, and while it was hardly under control, the department was compelled to pick up what apparatus could be spared and go to the heart of the business center, where was met the most stubborn of all blazes. It was started in a row of two-story frame buildings and swept the length of the half block east to the alley, where it threatened to take hold of a largethree-storv frame hotel across a narrow 15-foot alley. This hotel Chief Kingsley prepared to blow up, but the breeze changed favorably at the critical moment and the fire was held from further extension. Had the large hotel caught the fire would have taken out no doubt the rest of the business district leading east across the city.
Everett has a population of 30,000. The buildings are mostly frame, and there is a large congested business district. The fire department has never been kept up to standard either in equipment or in number of men. owing to the extended period of extremely good fortune which has hitherto been Everett’s lot. This naturally made the people feel too secure and induced carelessness. Chief Kingsley has been at the head of the department only 18 months, and he has tried continually to awaken the city to the situation. Now Everett is undoubtedly noting his advice a great deal more diligently in view of the 12 buildings a total loss and three badly damaged.
The various fires were handled with an equipment of three hose wagons, one engine and a truck and a total of 16 men. A total of about 7 200 feet of hose was laid, it being necessary to pick up from one fire and rush off to the next. The department had no Deluge sets or apparatus of that kind. Very little ladder service was required. The one engine used is third-size, which means that only two engine lines were available, the rest, of course, being hydrant streams. The nozzles used were 1 1/8 and 1 1/4 inch tips the pressure was fairly good, except for a short time at the start of the fire and before the auxiliary pumps could be placed in operation.
Accurate figures on losses are not yet available, but it is certain the loss will be over $150,000, with about 50 per cent, insurance on whole.