Norwich Has a Bad Wharf Fire
Property estimated at $175,000 was destroyed by fire in Norwich, Conn., on August 29, which was pronounced by Chief Howard L. Stanton one of the worst his department had ever been called upon to combat. The flames started on the Central wharf and burned over a territory 800 feet long and 350 feet wide. The buildings were three stories in height, having been built of brick over forty years ago. They were used as storehouses for lumber and coal, the partition walls being constructed of both brick and wood. The tire was discovered at 11:50 p.m. by a locomotive engineer, and it is supposed to have been started by tramps who were accustomed to sleep in the sheds. The body of a man was found in the ruins. It was fully 20 minutes later before the department received the alarm. When Chief Stanton and the firemen reached the scene with two Metropolitan—a fourth and a third size—and one Silsby, from outside the city, they found that the flames had obtained a gootl foothold and were making rapid headway. The Metropolitans worked well through 1,500 feet of hose, taking water from the river. No special means for lighting a fire had been provided on the premises, except a 4-inch pipe on the wharf, and that was “dead.” In describing the fire further, our correspondent says: “The fire department was severely handicapped by a lack of engines and water mains large enough to furnish good pressure. Eleven thousand feet of hose were used, with 3/4 and 1 3/8-inch nozzles. Only one 10-inch man was available, those in the vicinity being only 4-inch. The hydrants were from 300 to 400 feet apart and with a pressure of 85 to 90 pounds. Nineteen plug and five steamer streams were operated for several hours. Twenty-six streams were used at intervals, with three Eastman deluge sets. The engines were compelled to take water from the river through a 20-foot lift. 3he loss would have been infinitely smaller if the department had been summoned at once when the fire was discovered. Our hose is mostly of the Fabric Company’s make, and every foot of it stood the test well.”
Chief Stanton also writes: ‘‘We have fought fires many times in the same spot, but we had always received the alarm in time to get at it. The fire started near the main entrance to the wharf and was so bad that we could not get 40 feet down the wharf. Again we were obliged to use long lines of hose. My hose, some of it from 12 to 15 years old. stood the test. We used 8,0no feet of Fabric Fire Hose Company’s best grad.’ and not a length burst after 60 hours’ run. Some of it is 10 to 12 years old. Fight hundred feet of 3-inch hose was used from engines. It is the same old story, not enough engines to cope with a large fire, and lack of large water mains and larger hydrants for fires of this nature. 1 have seen fires illustrated in FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING, not as large as this, where it was reported 25 engines were at work, Think of my little force of 22 permanent men with 35 call and about 25 volunteers. I am satisfied to have saved what we did.”
Early in the night Chief Stanton stepped on a nail about an inch in length, and though he did not notice it until later, it penetrated through his rubber boot and into his leg. Later in the morning the chief began to feel a prickling sensation in his foot and he took his boot off to get out the gravel which he supposed caused it. He pulled out the nail instead. That was at nearly noon, and he was prevailed upon to go over to Dr. Kimball’s office to have the wound dressed, but with that exception he did not leave the fire until after it was out. The fire recalls the big blaze at the Chappell yard in February, 1873, when the thermometer was 12 degrees below zero, and the firemen were frozen to ladders. Three years later the Chappell office was gutted, and at this fire Chief Stanton was busy as a stoker. In 1852 hand engines had a chance to display their utility on the same wharf, with the result that they had to be pushed off into the river to save them.
When he got home Chief Stanton found a check for $25 awaiting him from the L. A. Gallup company as a testimonial in keeping their property from going up. Later $100 was received from other sources.