Neighboring Cities Give Aid at North Attleboro Hotel Fire
A fire that threatened to sweep through the business center of North Attleboro, Mass., recently was successfully confined by the North Attleboro fire department, assisted by firemen and apparatus from neighboring cities, to the hotel building in which it originated. The property, the Emerson House, covered an area 75 by 150 feet at the corner of Washingtoa and Elm streets. It was of wood construction with a tin roof over the main portion. Part of the hotel was four stories in height and the other parts three stories high. It was erected fortysix years ago, and there was nothing of the type of partition walls that would cut off one part from another. The old wood construction rendered the building ready fuel for the flames, and near-by buildings on the same block and across Elm street, most of which were of wood, were in such danger of catching fire that calls for aid were sent to Attleboro and Plainville and to Pawtucket and Central Falls, R. I. The janitor of a neighboring building discovered the fire, which is supposed to have started in rubbish in an unoccupied part of the rear ell, and an alarm was given at 5.15 o’clock. When First Assistant Chief C. F. Gehrung and the first apparatus arrived the fire had made such rapid progress that the middle portion of the hotel building was afire from the basement to the roof, and the flames were working their way into the main building. Including the firemen from other cities, there were 150 men at the fire, and the apparatus included two combination chemical and hose cars, two hose wagons and three ladder trucks of the Attleboro department; one hose car and one ladder truck from Attleboro; one hose car from Plainville; one Webb pumping engine and hose car from Pawtucket; and one Seagrave pumping engine and hose car from Central Falls; all the apparatus coming from neighboring cities being motor driven. Twelve hydrants. from 200 to 400 feet apart, were available, with a pressure of about 85 pounds, furnishing good plug streams and supplying the engines. Two engine streams and sixteen hydrant streams were thrown, about 10,000 feet of cotton rubber-lined hose being in use. Six lengths burst and about 500 feet were damaged while packing up, owing to the frozen condition, it being zero weather. Chief H. W. Tufts, head of the North Attleboro fire department, was unable to be at the scene of the fire. He had been ill for a week, and it was with difficulty that he was kept from leaving a sick bed to go to it. First Assistant Chief C. Fred Gehrung was in command and directed the work of the firemen so efficiently that the flames were under control at 9.30 o’clock. The fire was finally extinguished in twenty-four hours. The Emerson House had seventy-five rooms and was filled with guests. All of them escaped injury. One fireman sustained the fracture of a leg. The fire spread rapidly throughout the building, a northwest wind fanning the flames and shortly after 6 o’clock the fire had eaten its way into the main building and soon the entire Elm street side was a roaring furnace and shortly afterwards spread to the Washington street side. The hotel building doomed, the firemen fought valiantly to prevent the fire from reaching neighboring property and in this they succeeded. In an illustration elsewhere, showing the ruins, the holes in the roof of a building in the background were not caused by fire, but by falling chimneys the day after. The building in the background, though threatened, was not damaged by flames. The ground floor of the Emerson House was occupied by stores, a hardware store, the Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, two tailor shops, a news bureau and a telegraph office. The entire loss was estimated at about $200,000. The local press spoke in terms of high praise of good and difficult work done, saying Assistant Chiefs Gebrung and Batchelder did creditable work and that “the efficiency of the local fire department was demonstrated and only a fine organization of courageous fellows could have stemmed the tide as they did.” The water supply department was also awarded praise. The system is standpipe and direct pumping and at the sound of the alarm Superintendent Planner had the high pressure going and ‘this was a factor that helped save property.” He reported that the pressure during the fire was between 85and 90 pounds, which is the maximum, and 1,000,000 gallons of water were thrown onto the flames.