NARROW ESCAPE OF CHICAGO AUTOMOBILES.
Thousands of dollars’ worth of valuable automobiles which are on exhibition in Tattersail’s, 16th street, near State, were recently threatened with destruction by a fire which started in the rear of the huge structure about 1 a. m. The blaze was said by Colonel D. J. Moriarity, commander of the Seventh regiment, to be of incendiary origin. The regiment occupies the building as an armory. The flames were extinguished after a 2-11 alarm had been sounded summoning twenty companies of firemen to the scene. Expensive touring cars and motor trucks which were on exhibition, were run into streets and alleys. Other machines were covered with tarpaulins and saved from damage by fire and water. The loss to the building was estimated at $5,000. Firemen James Hickey and Thomas O’Grady of engine company 4, who were detailed at the exhibition, saw flames bursting from a small room used as an emergency hospital, on a balcony in the middle of the west side of the building. They sounded an alarm and, with Engineer James Murrey, who was in charge of the structure at the time, hurried to the scene. By the time they had reached the fire flames had burned the huge layers of bunting with which the interior of the building had been festooned and menaced the entire place. The first firemen to arrive sounded the second alarm and heroic efforts were made to confine the blaze to the balconies and roof of the building. When the alarm was sounded scores of exhibitors hurried to the building to recover their costly machines. Members of several fire-insurance patrols worked hard to cover up all the elaborate trappings. Rumors that the fire was of incendiary origin caused P’ire-attorney Frank J. Hogan and two detectives to hasten to the structure in an automobile. Mr. Flagan was told by Col. Moriarity that there was no reason why the blaze should have originated in that part of the building unless it had been deliberately started by some one. The enginerooms. which were the only place where fire might originate innocently, according to the investigators, were in the other end of the building and the sudden blaze immediately aroused the suspicion of the managers of the building. Dense volumes of smoke, which rolled down from the blazing bunting, caused the firemen much difficulty in making their way through the upper balconies of the building. Several narrowly escaped falling a height of fifty feet from their perilous position. Superintendent Mathieson of the Tattersall’s division of the auto show, said that while the fire may have been of incendiary origin, it was his opinion that the flames started from an overheated stovepipe. “There was a crowd of colored men sitting around in a room adjoining his office, and he was told that they were stuffing the stove with paper and kindling. His belief is that the stove-pipe became red hot and that its heat set the bunting on fire.”
Erie, Pa., will probably not raise the salaries of its firemen.