Juveniles Fire Printing Plant
On Tuesday evening, July 14, 1953, about seven o’clock, firemen at Engine Co. No. 7 located at 910 East Cary Street, Richmond. Va., seeking a cool breeze in front of the building, quickly came to attention when the driver of an empty lumber truck shouted as he passed by, “there is a fire up the street.”
No alarm had been received, so one of the firemen was sent to investigate. About two minutes later, a box alarm sounded from box 141, 8th and Franklin Streets. This box is located about one and a half blocks west and two blocks north from the engine house and is a first alarm assignment for No. 7. On arrival, the firemen found a flash fire roaring through the first story of a three-story brick building occupied by Mitchell & Hotchkiss, printers and book binders. This building is separated from buildings facing Main Street by a 10 foot alley. Flames were leaping from the Mitchell & Hotchkiss building and it appeared that these Main Street buildings would soon be involved.
Acting Battalion Chief Samuels quickly pulled second and third alarms, followed by several additional calls. The window frames of one of the Main Street buildings were burned and window glass was cracked by the intense heat. The Mitchell & Hotchkiss building has a 10 foot alley on the south, a parking lot on the west, an alley on the north and faces Eighth Street on the east. Therefore, the firemen were able to hit the fire from all four sides of the building.
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Three boys, ages 8, 9 and 11 years, confessed to starting this fire as well as several other mysterious fires which have occurred in Richmond recently.
A very large amount of unused printing paper was either destroyed or damaged by water. It was the second multiple alarm fire in the building in a year. The alarms were recorded as follows:
In about 45 minutes the flames had been knocked out by the fire fighters under the guidance of Chief John Finnegan and, in the opinion of this writer who has seen thousands of fires, this was the best job he had ever seen.