Narrow Escapes at a Manhattan Fire.
A brief account of a fire in the 7-story double apartment house at 22 and 24 West Fifty-sixth street, Manhattan, New York city, appeared in FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING of March 24. It broke out on the fifth floor, and, by means of the elevator shaft, quickly reached the roof, spreading as it went. One life was lost, that of the Rev. Dr. Simpson, who, with his wife and family livedjon the seventh floor. The last that was seen of him was while, blinded and dazed by the smoke, he was trying to find a means of escape from the flames. With a portion of the roof, he was carried down and was afterwards found buried and crushed to death under the beams and zinc cornice. His wife and daughter were taken to the Flower hospital, badly burned. Three firemen, who were badly injured, two being cut and bruised by the falling glass, and one with his right arm broken by tripping over a length of hose that lay on the ground when he was carrying another to the scene of action. The escapes of some of the inmates from death was marvelous. Some were rescued just as they were about to leap from the windows. Oihers, who were hanging on by their hands to the windowsills, with the flames coming nearer and nearer to them – in some cases scorching their fingers—were carried down by the firemen. One woman collapsed in the arms of one fireman, who had reached the topmost rung of the extension ladder. All the tenants of the house above the fifth floor got out either by the rear fire escapes or the firemen’s ladders. The elevator never had a chance to run. The flames were rushing up the elevatorshaft before the people in the house had a chance to get out of their apartments, and only those living below the fifth floor, where the fire started, could use the stairs. Seven of the inmates were severely burned. Mrs. and Miss Simpson, it was feared at the time, fatally. Many more who had to rush through the flames were also injured and several were cut and bruised by falling glass and debris. For the time being the barroom of die Plaza hotel was turned into a hospital, where those injured were attended by surgeons who had come with three ambulances from the Flower hospital, and the physicians who make the hotel their home, and by others from the neighborhood. At 1 o’clock a. m. the flames, which had first been discovered at 11:40 p. m., were still formidable. Externally, as will be seen from the accompanying illustration, it does not show much damage from the fire. Its handsome stone front is intact, only the windows appearing to have been forced out by the flames. But from the third floor, where the blaze started, to the topmost apartments on the seventh floor the destruction internally was complete, and the flames, bursting through the roof, brought down a large amount of debris, much of it being the metal cornice, under a large portion of which Dr. Simpson was found crushed and disfigured. The building, though solid, was by no means fire-resisting. It had many wide and open floor-spaces; the stairways not protected, and the elevatorshaft was of the most approved type for acting, as it did act, the part of a flue, up which the flames rushed, mushrooming at the roof and spreading out into the halls and apartments on each side, leaving those caught by the fire no chance of escaping down by the elevator or the stairways to the street. The only means of escape left, therefore, were the front windows and the rear fire escapes. The water pressure was not sufficient for the firemen to produce any effective results, and, in any case, their first care was to rescue the inmates. The illustration shows how the men of truck 35 mounted to the seventh story, where Mrs. Simpson and her daughter were entrapped and where at the third floor they saved another woman, who was just on the point of leaping out, but was saved in time and, though unconscious, brought down.