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Fires and the Yellow Fever.

A correspondent of the Chicago Times tells this story;

“There was, many years ago, in the South, a clan of robbers known as the ‘Wages Clan.’ The last of the clan was executed on the gallows at Augusta, Perry County, Miss., in about the year 1858, by J. R. S. Pitts, Sheriff. His name was Copeland. He was convicted of murder, and while in jail under sentence of death he made a confession, which was published in book form by Pitts, giving the details of the operations of the ‘Wages Clan.’ In that confession he states that, during the yellow fever epidemic in Mobile, in 1839, the clan took advantage of the situation and set numerous buildings on fire in that city, with a view to plunder and rob. Every night the tremulous tones of the fire-bells rang out on the pestilential air of Mobile, and the well left the bedside of the sick and the dying to respond to the call to arrest the fire-fiend. An almost universal wail of despair went up from every heart. ‘ Bronze John ’ was slaying his victims, and incendiaries were burning and sacking the town. But what was the result ? Every old Mobilian will tell you that the -fires stopped the fever.”

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Old Boston Firemen.

The Boston Globe gives this report of a reunion and dinner of the members of the old Boston Fire Department, who served under Captain William Barnicoat, the other evening at the American House. About 100 of the veterans were present, who passed some little time in social intercourse and then adjourned to the banquet hall. Captain James Quinn, of the old Thirteen, presided. Captain Otis Munroe was the oldest member present, it being fifty-one years since he was elected Captain of the old North Engine Company, and fifty-six years since he joined the Department. The Hon. Moses Kimball, Joseph L. Drew, Gardner B. Chapin, Joseph Borrowsdale, the Rev. Norwood Damon, ex-Chief Engineer John S. Damrell, ex-Aldermen Clark and Seavey, and Robert M. Hall, were among the guests. The hall was appropriately decorated with flags, a portrait of Captain Barnicoat and various articles of the old-time machine, in a tasteful manner. Captain Quinn welcomed the members with a few remarks. He said we have met for the purpose of reviving old acquaintances, and I trust there will be a full and free expression of sentiment from each one present. After discussing an excellent dinner. Captain Quinn related some anecdotes of former times, and was followed by Mr. Otis Munroe, who spoke of old “7,” called the “old squirt.” whose house was then situated j where the present City Hall stands. Hon. Moses Kimball gave a very interesting sketch j of the working of the old Department, and was j followed by Mr.‘Joseph L. Drew, who spoke of the Convent fire. He then spoke of a fire at Quincy, when the word was passed that the tubs were running them over. He, being at the pipe, unscrewed the cap that was on that end of the pipe, and then the boys were in no danger of being washed.

The next speaker was John S. Damrell, who j i spoke of the pleasure of meeting so many old friends whose time of service dated back to 1847. He then spoke briefly of his various offices in the Department, and related an incident which showed that visitors saw Boston’s weakness in protection from fire in 1872, even if the city government did not. A short time before the Chicago fire a prominent gentleman from London, connected with an insurance company, came to the city, and asked in case of a large fire in Boston what district would be likely to be unsafe. He was shown around the district that was afterwards burnt. The gentlemen returned to London, canceled over $10,000,000 worth of insurance policies, and did not lose a dollar by the fire. Mr. Damon, Captain Joseph Simmons, H. L. Champlin, W. P. Jones, Walter Ball, Captain O. L. Roberts and others made short speeches, and the meeting dissolved.

Compliments for Chicago Firemen.

The following complimentary resolutions were adopted at the meeting of the Committee on Fire and Water of the Chicago City Council, last week :

“Resolved, 1. That the thanks of the Committee on Fire and Water of the City Council be, and they are hereby tendered to Fire Marshal Benner for his able and efficient management of his Department since our connection : with the City Council, and his cordial co-operation with the committee in all recommendations for the good and economical managej ment thereof.

“ 2. That all the officers and companies are entitled to the confidence of the publicfor their efficient conduct and for their loyalty to j the city authorities in their efforts to conduct the said Department with economy and re! trenchment.”

Newport Firemen Complimented.

Gen. Jackson, commanding at Fort Adams, has, in a graceful note, communicated to Chief Engineer Cozzens his high appreciation of the services rendered by the Newport Fire Department upon the occasion of the fire at the Fort. He says : “ Even to military men, accustomed for years to military promptness, vour celerity in reaching us in our trouble was surprising. Your engines once upon the ground, perfect confidence was felt that the fire which had baffled us would be conquered, and the result showed how well our confidence was grounded, for the fire never extended beyond the room in which it raged at the time of your arrival.”

Fires Caused by Water.

The familiar lecture-table experiment of “touching off a cannon with an icicle ” has its counterpart, no less paradoxical, in the actual world, where fires are sometimes (though not frequently) caused by water. In the experiment alluded to, a tiny piece of potassium, by its energetic combination with the oxygen in the icicle, inflames the liberated hydrogen, and thus lights the priming of the cannon. The experiment is a striking one, calculated to make one remember that chemical combination is a source of heat, and that when two bodies have a very intense mutual affinity, they may combine with such fervor as to cause combustion. Some time ago the Polytechnic Review called attention to a case in which fire was caused indirectly by flood—the rising water floating a cotton bale that was in a warehouse cellar until it caught a gas flame and set fire to the floor ; and thus caused the loss of the building. Recently at the Amelunk fire in Brooklyn, there was a more direct example of fire caused by water, by the energetic combination of the water raised by the high tide and wind, with some quicklime, the slaking being so vigorous as to cause ignition of the boxes or barrels containing it, and thus causing a serious fire. This, and similar lessons, should teach us greater care in storage, and greater watchfulness. It is very much doubted whether any lessons or any losses will ever teach Americans to build fire-proot. Spontaneous combustion of damp hay is not unfrequcnt ; coal, sometimes, if not well ventilated, gets to smouldering on shipboard ; grain is liable to the same danger. Cottonwaste, rags, etc., can be ignited if the proper conditions of moisture and confinement exist ; and where these are not found, spontaneous combustion, caused by rapid oxidation of animal oils, is quite ready to aid in swelling the list of insurance losses. Not entirely apropos of our title heading may be mentioned fires caused by the rays of the sun, concentrated by means of druggists’ bottles, engravers’ globes, aquaria, or even bubbles in glass panes—falling on inflammable materials. The water acting as a refracting material, causes the damage.