Firemen Ordered Out Before a Clock Tower and tWe Roof Gave Way—Blaze Had Considerable Headway But Did Not Spread

FIVE alarms were sounded in the early hours of the morning ot January 4 for a fire which destroyed the old 5-story stone building at the junction of Tremont and Berkeley Streets and Warren Avenue in the South End District of Boston. Mass., with a loss estimated at $150,000.

The structure was known as the Odd Fellows’ Block and contained stores on tne ground floor and lodge halls and meeting rooms on the upper floors including two large halls known as Odd Fellows’ Hall and Berkeley Hall. The blaze apparently originated in the rear of the second floor and traveled up a stairway and an old elevator shaft to the upper stories. It had obtained great headway before the first apparatus reached the scene.

The first alarm came in at 4:25 a.m. Engine Company Xo. 22 and Ladder Company No. 13, from the Warren Avenue fire house less than two blocks away, were quickly at the scene and found the fire raging in the rear.

A second alarm was ordered at 4:28; third alarm at 4:32; fourth alarm at 4:49; and fifth alarm at 5:20. Special calls were sent in for an additional hook and ladder truck and a third water tower.

Hose lines were taken over stairways and up a fire escape in the rear as well as over ladders and to the roofs of adjoining buildings. Several companies of firemen working inside the structure were ordered to drop their lines and get out just before the roof and a clock tower crashed in.

After the flames drove the firemen out, the battle was waged from the street, fire escapes, and nearby roofs. At the height of the fire, there were seven Morse wagon guns, three water towers, and six roof lines operating on the flames. Chief Henry A. Fox was in charge of department operations. Current was ordered shut off the trolley wires which were then cut.

The response of apparatus to the various alarms was as follows: 1st alarm, Engine Companies 22, 3, 26, and 15; Ladder Companies 13 and 3, Rescue Company 1, Chief of District 7, Chief of Division 2; 2nd alarm, Engine Companies 35, 10, 6. 13, and 43; Ladder Companies 17 and 12, Water Tower No. 2, Chief of District 5, Chief of District 8, and Lighting Plants 1 and 2; 3rd alarm, Engine Companies 32, 39, 34, 33, 23, and 2; Water Tower No. 1, Fuel Wagon; 4th alarm, Engine Companies 8, 16, 21, 20, and 9; Ladder Company 24. and Chief of District 9; 5th alarm, Engine Companies 37. 7, 53, 18, and 50. By special calls Water Tower No. 3 and Ladder Company 20 responded. The wagons of the Boston Protective Department and the emergency cars of the Edison Electric Illuminating Company, Boston Consolidated Gas Company, and Boston Elevated Railway were also at the scene. A box pulled by a citizen at 4:59 a.m. brought Engine Companies 12 and 37, Ladder Company 18. and the Chief of District 4.

Firemen Fighting the Blaze in the Odd Fellows' Block

The officers at the fire were Chief Fox, Assistant Chief Henry J. Power, Deputy Chief William F. Quigley, and District Chiefs Samuel J. Pope, Dennis A. Coughlin, Charles McDonnell, and William H. McCorkle. There were 230 officers and men at the scene. The nozzles were 1 1/4-inch on mobile lines, 1 5/8-inch on wagon guns, and 2-inches on the water towers. 1 he total amount of hose laid was 18,000 feet of 2 1/2 and 3-inch cotton rubber lined. The length of ladders raised was 1,317 feet.

Ruins of the Five-Alarm Fire in Boston

The building was built in 1872 and was of second class construction with a mansard roof. It was 85 feet in height. The area was 80 by 75 by 90 feet. The walls were granite and brick. There were no automatic alarms or sprinklers in the building and no watchman service. There was one brick partition wall. Heating was by steam and there was an electric elevator. The superintendent and his family lived on the third floor rear. l here was a small ammonia plant in the basement for use by a florist and caterer. Four persons were rescued or assisted from the third floor. Two hundred guests in the Hotel Clarendon, adjoining the Odd Fellows Block, were aroused when the flames threatened to spread. Fire, however, was confined to the building in which it originated. Damage to the lower floor was confined to smoke and water loss, but the upper stories were completely burned out, the roof and top section on the Tremont Street side falling in.

The fire was outside of the high pressure district of the city, but there were plenty of post hydrants available with an average pressure of 55 pounds from 12 inch mains. American-LaFrance motor pumping engines and hook and ladder trucks of the same make rendered efficient service. The ladders and towers as well as the fire escapes and streets became coated with ice from the freezing spray of the hose lines. Firemen were stationed on roofs to leeward of the fire to watch for flying sparks and embers. One fireman and one member of the Protective Department suffered injuries requiring hospital treatment.

More than sixty lodges and fraternal organizations met in the building and many of these lost valuable prizes and regalia. The members of the Boston Protective Department, under orders of Supt. Peter E. Walsh, spread over 100 rubber covers and 30 of these were lost.

The “all out” signal was sounded at 1:51 p.m., but a hose line and detail of firemen remained at the scene to guard against the rekindling of flames amid the ruins.

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