Multiple Alarm Fires Feature Chicago Holiday Season
There was no rest for Chicago fire fighters over the year-end holidays, as three fires, spurred by high winds, virtually destroyed a freight terminal, an historic church and a lumber storage shed. Property damage was estimated at close to $2 million.
The largest single loss, according to Chief Fire Marshal Albert H. Peterson, occurred at the Wabash Railroad and Acme Freight Terminal, a 750foot long two-story brick structure at 27-29 W. Roosevelt road. This blaze did damage estimated at $1 million, destroying much of the building, eight loaded freight cars and damaging some 20 trailer vans.
Fire gains headway
The fire which was discovered after Christmas Day loading had stopped, started in the ceiling of the first floor of the vast structure and had great headway before firemen had a line on it. The night watchman burned both hands in the effort to close a corrugated steel door to shut off the office from the warehouse section.
Firemen, responding on 5-11 alarms, utilized some 50 pieces of apparatus. Five fire fighters were injured in this operation, none seriously. The fire was fought from both levels of Roosevelt road; some crews operated lines on the roaring, smoky blaze from the tops of 30 freight cars located around the building. Some of the railroad tracks entering the Dearborn street station were blocked temporarily.
The cause of this near-conflagration was not ascertained.
Only a few hours before this dangerous blaze, early on December 26, another 5-11 fire swept through St. Paul’s Evangelical and Reformed Church at Fullerton and Orchard streets, causing an estimated $500,000 loss. Three fire fighters were injured in this fire, none seriously.
This spectacular early morning blaze roared through the historic, picturesque stone edifice amid a ringing of its chimes set off by the roaring fire.
Flames engulfed the 35-foot wood steeple that surmounted the 70-foot high structure and toppled it, some of the burning debris landing on the roof of St. Paul’s new three-story chapel.
Exposures Covered Effectively
Fire fighters, aided in this case by a favorable north wind, kept the fire from spreading to the nearby sevenstory Children’s Memorial Hospital. Besides the heavy duty streams played on the church itself, firemen wet down roofs of houses along Orchard street as well as that of the new chapel. Nurses and interns meanwhile calmed the patients in the hospital and transferred some 40 children from their rooms on the Orchard street side to other quarters.
The blaze was the third suffered by the church since its founding in 1843. Its organ had only just been rebuilt at a cost of $50,000 and was played for the first time at the Christmas Eve services.
The third fire occurred on Christmas Day and involved a storage shed in the Sterling Lumber & Supply Yards on Halstead street. This blaze damaged property to the extent of $75,000, according to Chief Peterson. One fireman was slightly injured in the 3-11 alarm struggle.