Newark Has Disastrous Fire
Monday, January 29, fire demolished the furniture house of J. Mullins & Sons at 218 and 220 Market street, Newark, N. J., and also the plant of the Essex Press, adjoining. The total loss is placed at between $200,000 and $300,000. The furniture building was four stories in height, and that in which the Essex Press was located was six, both being of brick, the latter having been built only a few years ago. The fire was discovered about 5:11 a. m., and when the department arrived the flames were raging through the entire Mullins structure, and the two upper stories of the Essex Press. Four alarms brought out a total of sixteen engine companies, five hook and ladder companies, one water tower, one high pressure wagon, fuel wagons, salvage corps and six chief officers Of the apparatus in service the engines were of the following makes and sizes: No. 1, extra first size Amoskeag: No. 2, first size American: No. 3. extra second size Amoskeag; No. 4, extra second size Amoskeag; No. 5, first size La France; No. 6, second size American; No. 7, extra second size La France; No. 8, extra second size Amoskeag; No. 9, second size La France; No. 10, extra second size Amoskeag; No. 11. extra third size La France; No. 12. second size Metropolitan: No. 14, second size Amoskeag; No. 18. second size Amoskeag; No. 20, second size Metropolitan; No. 22. second size Amoskeag. All but three of the engine companies were equipped with combination chemical engines and hose wagons and three were of the regulation type of hose wagon. Four wagons were equipped with deck and monitor nozzles. Of the five trucks in service: No. 1, is a Kaiser Pneumatic Aerial truck: No. 2. American La France aerial; No. 3. an American-La France city truck; No. 4. Gleason and Bailey city truck; No. 5. American-La France aerial. The water tower in service is a Champion Tower, with nine outlets for hose and with deck nozzle. Chief Sloan ordered engine No. 25 placed in service. This engine is a double extra first size Amoskeag steam engine, formerly a self-propeller, but now drawn by three horses. This engine can throw front 1.350 to 1,400 gallons of water per minute. The engine was stationed on Market street, some hundreds of feet from the fire and was connected with the large outlet of a highpressure hydrant, a six-inch outlet, and pumped water to the water tower. The engine was run at 360 pounds pressure, raising the high service pressure from 150 pounds to 360 pounds. The engine did splendid service at this fire and was run for more than five hours. After the water tower was relieved from duty, the engine ran at 200 pounds, supplying lines with abundant water. The high pressure water supply was much used, there being from 15 to 20 lines in use. More than 16,000 feet of hose was in use and but two lengths burst. Chief Sloan sent many of the steam engines back to quarters, but kept their crews to man the high-pressure mains. There were still in quarters to cover the city in case of other fires, six engines and three hook asd ladder companies. Working in a sleet storm, which covered the engines and trucks with a two-inch ice coat, the firemen kept the Haines from spreading to. adjoining buildings. At the start burning paper and excelsior from the Mullins building were shot high in the air, landing on the roofs of buildings as far south and west as Broad and William streets. Deputy Chief Moore said that only the coating of sleet on the roofs saved the city from other fires. The first apparatus to arrive, No. 1 truck, stopped in front of the furniture house. A moment later the plate glass windows in the front burst out, and it was with the greatest difficulty that the firemen, among whom was Deputy Chief Moore, released the frightened horses attached to the trucks. With the second alarm, turned in by Deputy Chief Moore, Acting Captain Caifrey, of the First Precinct, established lire lines, blocking all traffic from Broad and Mulberry streets through Market and Mechanic streets. Forty patrolmen, drawn from the reserves of all the precincts, were on duty by 5 :45 o’clock. Moore followed the second alarm with a third, which brought Chief Sloan. The latter turned in a fourth alarm, and despite the fact that for three weeks he has been confined to bis home with a heavy cold, he stayed at the fire until 10:30 o’clock. Dr. Hugh M. Hart, the department physician, was near the chief most of the morning, and finally persuaded him to turn over the command to Deputy Chief Moore. During the entire fire only one or two lengths of hose burst to hamper the firemen. High-pressure was used from the beginning, and fifteen to twenty lines of hose were directed on the fire. The pressure was good at all times. For years the Mullins building had been regarded by the fire-fighters as a danger point and had been watched carefully. During the regime of former Chief Kierstead, he and Commissioner Burke inspected the building and pointed out the potential peril of the airshaft through the centre. Together with the excellent quality of the hose, the firemen gave credit to the high-pressure system for the celerity with which they were able to stem the fire. That the flames were confined to the two buildings was taken as a testimonial to efficient work. One of the main vantage points used by the firemen was Union court, a narrow alley extending westerly from Mulberry street, between Mechanic and Market streets, to within twenty feet of the east side of the Mullins building. Three lines of hose run through, tarried to the roof of the adjoining buildings and directed into the fire. Eight lines were played on the west side of the Essex Press building, from Market street through to Mechanic street. From Market street the water tower, with a varying number of highpressure streams, kept eating into the flames from the beginning. An eqtial number of lines, at the most eight, were turned on the rear of the Mullins building from Mechanic street. Separating the Mullins building and the Essex Press building is an eighteen-inch fire wall. This wall, extending to the top of the Mullins building, reached to the fourth floor of the Essex Press building. The flames communicated to the Essex Press building from the Mullins structure through the two upper stories in the Essex Press building. At eleven o’clock firemen started to low’er the big seventy-five-foot aerial ladder which had been swung into place on the Market street side of the Essex building. The ladder was ice-incrusted, and, while the firemen were chopping near the extension joints, an ominous crackling warned them to jump. Hardly had they landed, when the upper part of the ladder weakened with the weight of the ice, toppled to the ground. As it fell, part of it struck an arc light and again split. No one was injured. Chief Moore described the fire as “one of those dirty Monday-morning affairs.” He supposed, he said, that the fire started in the rear of the Mullins building, perhaps in the furnace room, and had probably smoldered for several hours, possibly from late Saturday night. The Mullins concern employed no watchman, and so far no one has been discovered who was in the building Sunday. The Mullins structure was in reality two buildings. The Market street end, four stories high, with twelve-inch brick walls and about twenty years old, was formerly a leather factory, and was oil soaked throughout. The section facing Mechanic street, built about ten years ago, was a continuation of the old building. At the juncture of the two sections, extending from the cellar to the roof, was an air and light shaft, an ideal flue for the flames. In the theory of the origin of the fire now held by the fire heads, the flames, probably smouldering for some time in the first floor, kindled to destructive proportions when the draft from the shaft drew them. The ignition of the upper four floors followed. On the fourth floor of the furniture house were stored a large number of iron spring beds and about two or three dozen mattresses. It was probably sparks from the flaming mattresses, carried into the air by the falling of the roof, which formed the firebrands that during the first hour caused apprehension for surrounding buildings. The other floors of the building carried the usual assortment of furniture.
In the Essex Press building were the United Cigar Stores Company’s store on the first floor front; on the second floor, a pressroom and part of the Essex Tress Company’s equipment, and on the third floor the rooms of the Linotype Composition Company. The reiminder of the building w’as used by the Essex F
Part of the loss incurred by the Essex Press was in copy in their hands ready to be set up. Besides the copy for several country weeklies, there was on hand 11,000 pages—luckily carbon copies of a compilation of franchises and laws relating thereto for the Public Services Corporation. As the firemen gained control, engines were withdrawn until 1 o’clock there were six engines, the water tower and three trucks at the scene. The fourth alarm was turned in at 5 :34 o’clock, twenty-three minutes after the first alarm.
The general verdict of men experienced in such tasks, as well as of less experienced observers, was that it was a well stopped fire. That there were not a dozen other fires within a radius of several blocks from the location of the Mullins’ and Essex Press buildings, Was due to the same conditions which made the work of the firemen more difficult than usual—a fall of bail and snow, and the fact that buildings in the centre of the city were covered with a half inch coating of snow. One remarkable feature of the work in connection with the fire Was that of the 363 lengths, or 18,150 feet of hose used by the firemen, only two lengths burst, and even these leaks w’ere insignificant. This fact was noticed and discussed by many citizens during the progress of the fire, as well as by all the members of the Board of Fire Commissioners and the chiefs and other officers of the department, and firemen generally. Interesting records of the fire ate as follows: Lines of hose in use, 35; lengths of hose, 363; feet of hose, 18,150; feet of ladders, 801; streams, 35; engines in service, 16; trucks in service, 5; water tower in service, 1 ; high pressure wagon in service. 1 ; high pressure streams, 25; approximate number of men in service, 250; policemen in service approximately, 50; number of alarms sent out, 4. January was one of the heaviest months in the history of the Newark fire department. There was a total of 218 alarms, of which 33 were still, 10 false, 169 first si, 4 seconds. 1 third and 1 fourth. During the month 1,090 lengths, or 54,500 feet, of hose were used, and 2.026 fet of holders. Chemicals were used to extinguish 80 fires, there being in use 75 chemical streams and 125 extinguishers.