Kansas City Starts the New Year with a Fire
Following closely the advent of 1913, Kansas City, Mo., was the scene of a spectacular fire that destroyed the annex to the New York Life building, the first skycraper built in the city, and did extensive damage to the main building and other adjoining structures. While the total loss can be only roughly estimated, it is believed it will exceed $140,000. The fire was discovered at 3:30 a. m., just as the New Year’s revelers were about to abandon the cafes to go to their homes. The news that a big fire was in progress spread quicker than the flames themselves. Before the second alarm was turned in, that brought all of the fire apparatus in the downtown district to the scene, several thousand men and women had gathered in Delaware street, between Eighth and Ninth, and full dress suits were in striking contrast to the boots, great coats and red hats of the fire fighters. Many of the men in the crowd had offices in some of the buildings damaged. Regardless of their holiday attire they hurried in and out through smoky hallways and rooms to save what was most valuable to them. In describing this fire, Chief John E. Enger says: “The New York Life building annex was located on Center street, in the retail district, and was 50 x 130 feet in dimension, four stories, built of brick and wood, with partition walls. The fire, which started about 3:48 a. m., was discovered by a citizen and burned for three hours before the department was released. A telephone alarm was responded to by ten engines, three hose wagons, four ladder trucki one water tower, one high pressure wagon and two fuel wagons. When the firemen reached the building the flames were bursting out from all flours. The street is narrow at this point, being only 40 feet, and carries an 8 and 10-inch water main, which furnished a pressure of 95 pounds. In the immediate vicinity were 23 double 6-inch hydrants, and with 9,000 feet of cotton jacket, rubber-lined hose, 15 engine streams and five plug streams were maintained until the fire was subdued. Nozzles of 1 1/4 and 2-inch were used. Aside from these were the water tower and a large turret nozzle. Soon after the flames were discovered they quickly spread to the main building of the New York Life Co. The building was equipped with hand extinguishers, standpipe and hose. There were also fire escapes. The contents of the building consisted of electrical goods, typewriters and office furniture, etc., and was valued at about $150,000.”
The Barns packing plant at Calgary, Alberta, whose recent burning was one of the heaviest losses in the history of western Canada (being upwards of $1,000,000. insured for $500,000), was just one day ahead of the turning on of the water into the sprinkler plant, which was to have taken place on the day after that on which the fire took place. All the time that the flames were raging the water supply was deficient.