Mistake in ‘Phone Alarm Results in Loss
An instance in which the misunderstanding of a single word, transmitted in a telephone alarm of fire, resulted in delay and considerable loss is reported from Morgan City, La. The fire in question was in the Morgan City Hotel, in that city. The telephone alarm originated from that place, but was relayed by the telephone operator at the public exchange to the Fire Department. According to the fireman on duty, the operator reported the fire as at the “Morgan City Wholesale,” which is the name used locally for the Morgan City Wholesale Grocery, evidently confusing it with the hotel.
After the delay caused by the unnecessary run, the Fire Department arrived at the blaze to find that the fire, fanned by a wind estimated at 25 m.p.h., had spread to the buildings adjoining the Morgan City Hotel on either side. The department of Morgan City, assisted by the Berwick Fire Department, brought the fire under control in two hours after the alarm had been received, stretching four lines and completely surrounding the fire. The loss was roughly estimated at $5,000, resulting in the total destruction of the Morgan City Hotel, the Louisiana Hotel, a double dwelling house, and a partial loss of $500 on a two story frame building.
In an effort to avoid misunderstandings over future telephone alarms, a publicity campaign is to be conducted by the city authorities and in the local newspaper, setting forth the advantages of the telegraph alarm system and advising citizens to use the boxes in preference to phoning alarms of fire.