New York Has a Roast.
Crowds of people on the Brooklyn bridge, on the roofs of the tall buildings overlooking the river, along housetops adjacent to the East river front, on the narrow thoroughfares leading down to the river, and on the piers and wharves along South street, and on the Brooklyn shore, gazed for two hours on Wednesday afternoon at a fierce fire which consumed the freight sheds of the Clyde (Philadelphia) steamship line, at Piers 33 to 35 East river, and partially destroyed the Catharine street ferry house.
The fire was one of the hottest that has been encountered by the Fire Department along the river front fora long time, and again demonstrated the value of the fire boats in contending with the flames on the docks and piers which cannot be readily reached by the land engines. But for the good work done by the fire boats and the police boat Patrol and several powerful tugs fitted with fire pumps, the conflagration would have been much more serious.
It was 1:05 o’clock when the fire started. It was caused by the explosion of one of a lot of barrels of naphtha which stood on the pavement in front of pier 33. A portion of this pier was occupied by the Long Island Railroad Company for the reception of freight. The naphtha barrels had been standing out in the street all the morning, with the fierce rays of the sun beating down upon them. It is believed that a careless passer-by threw a lighted match or the burning stump of a cigar among the barrels, and that the heated naphtha took fire. The barrel exploded with a loud report, and the contents burst into flame. Quick as a flash the fire communicated to the other barrels, and before those who had witnessed the explosion could realize what had occurred, the whole front of the freight-house was covered by a sheet of flame.
Besides the land engines which had responded to the repeated alarms sent out, the fire boats New Yorker and Havermeyer, the police steamer Patrol, the fireboat Seth Low of the Brooklyn department, and the tugs Acme and Wild Rose of the Standard Oil Company, which carry powerful fire pumps, gathered along the river front and threw great streams of wate upon the burning wharves. Chief Bonner was in charge of the fire, but, despite the splendid work of the firemen, the flames, fed by the large quantities of combustible merchandise stored in the flimsy structures, spread with great fury, until the row of sheds extending from Oliver to Catharine street, nearly 200 feet, were ablaze. The loss will amount to about $65,000.