Philadelphia has Picture Film Fire

Philadelphia has Picture Film Fire

The Philadelphia Fire Underwriters’ Association has issued a special report on the recent serious re in the motion picture film exchange of the General Film Company at 926-928 Market street, Philadelphia. The report says. “The premises of the General Film Company contained a large stock of films, at times amounting to several thousand reels. A large proportion of the films were kept in metal cases, hut the nature of the business required a number of films to be open during examination and repairs. The fire was discovered at about 3.30 a.m. by one of the employees who was entering the building from the rear. This employee stated that lie noticed ‘sparks’ coming up from around the steam pipes and before he could secure a bucket of water (with which the establishment was well supplied) the flames extended to a table on which were a number of exposed 1ms. The ends of several of these lms extended from the table to the floor and were close to steam pipes. Other employees stated that the flames increased with such rapidity that they were barely able to escape from the building. The watchman in the employ of the moving picture establishment, first floor, stated that at the time the re started he was at the front of the building, and upon entering his attention was attracted to the commotion on the floor above; and before he heard the cry of fire he saw flames coming down to the rear of the first floor in the nature of a ‘stream’ of fire. The fire spread so rapidly that he was prevented from securing his personal effects. The employees of the General Film Company gave the fire alarm by running to the house of and notifying Engine Co. No. 20, which is located on Tenth street above Market, about one block from the re. Upon the arrival of that company at the lire they at once turned in an alarm and then directed their attention to the rear of the building, where they found the conditions most serious. At the time of their arrival the building was apparently on fire throughout, flames shooting out of the windows and at intervals attended with explosions. The fire resulted in the destruction of the Film Fixchange building and the building adjoining on the west, which at the time of the re was vacant. Apparently this building lied with smoke soon after the lire started. This condition was probably largely due to the gases from the burning films, which is attended with great expansive force. There were five alarms sent in. During the investigation following the fire it became evident that the employees of the General F’ilm Company had little or no knowledge of either the composition or danger of the material they were handling, other than that it was inflammable if ignited by the application of fire. The night of the fire was extremely cold, and it is probable that the heating plant was forced in order to keep the rooms comfortable, and that the heat in the steam pipes was of a degree sufficient to start combustion of the film material in contact therewith. Because of the general lack of knowledge of the hazards of this business, your inspector was requested to give a demonstration, which was done at the t ity Hall before a large assemblage of city officials, film exchange operators, employees and others. It will be of interest to note that in addition to the water thrown on the fire by the engine companies, that the high pressure .re service had nine pumping units in operation for 27 hour and 23 minutes and four pumping units in operation 7 hours and 37 minutes. The water pressure at the pumping station averaged 250 pounds, the total pumpage was nearly 13,000,000 gallons.”

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