Pittsfield has Two Disasters.
Pittsfield, Mass., has been a severe sufferer from fires since the opening of the present year. The burning of the Academy of Music together with the Miller building and storage warehouse was one of the severest casualties. These buildings are located in the center or business section of the city and cover a space of 200 feet on North street and 150 feet deep. They were from three to five stories high, constructed of both brick and wood and about forty years old. The fire was discovered by a passing citizen about 11:42 p. m. It was then burning on the ground floor at the north end. An alarm was sent in from box 42 and was responded to by one Metropolitan, one Silsby, four combination wagons and one service ladder truck. When the firemen reached the scene of the fire the flames were in the center of a clothing store and were burning fiercely. The building is equipped with extinguishers and iron fire escapes, but it being night time neither was used. Chief William C. Shepard ordered 5.450 feet of .cotton rubber-lined hose run out, and with seven 6-inch double hydrants located in the vicinity, seven hydrant streams and three engine streams pourwater into the flames for several hours before they were subdued. One Eastman 2-inch nozzle and several 1 ⅛-inch nozzles were used. The street at this point is 100 feet wide, from building to building, and carries a 6-inch, 8-inch and 10-inch water main. The night was cold, hut the hydrants were not frozen and the hydrant pressure of from 75 to 80 pounds was available from start to finish. The building had no fire stops whatever. There was a blind pocket space of about six feet above the first floor ceiling, the full size of the building, which made the work of the department very hard from the street. I’he electric pumps at Owota Lake were held in reserve, but these were not needed. The gravitywater system is fed by Ashley Lake, and the draft upon the lake for this fire lowered it 2 ½ feet, it being roughly estimated that 10,000,000 gallons of water were used on the fire.
Pittsfield’s second fire was the destruction of the Burns Block, corner of North and Summer streets, the loss being estimated at more than $100,000. It was about 6:15 p. m., when an explosion was heard in the rear of Rice & Kelly’s furniture store, and being at meal time many of the firemen were caught at their homes. The fire apparatus made a quick run to the scene and Chief Shepard immediately ordered a second alarm turned in at 6.25 o’clock. This firealarm box is the same that was turned in for the Academy of Music and the Miller block fire two weeks ago to-night. The first stream was turned upon the fire at 6:25 and was quickly followed by others until there were 12 streams being played upon the flames, four from the rear and eight from the front. The firemen worked hard, braving the heat of the flames in going up ladders to windows of the block which was a fiery furnace within. Two standpipes and one of the chemical wagons were tried out for the first time, two lines of hose being attached, and it demonstrated its worth, doing very effective work from the front of the building. The flames were confined to the second floor for altout 15 minutes, but then communicated to the third floor in the rear and gradually worked forward. For nearly an hour the flames were kept out of that part of the block occupied by the Besse-Clarkc Company, but the fire was not to be defied and at 8:30 the flames communicated to the fourth floor of this part of the building, which was soon all aflame. The third and then the second floors caught and were burned out. The firemen stopped the flames, however, without their having reached the ground floor. Practically the entire building was burned out, but despite this the walls remained standing, due to the excellent construction of the block.
For a time, it looked as though the second Burns block to the north would perish in the path of the flames, to say nothing of the livery stable in the rear, backing up to the Elks’ home block and residence on Union street. Twelve lines of hose with a pressure of 68 pounds (gravity) and helped by the big Silsby steamers, pumped good streams into the flaming building, but notwithstanding the huge quantities of water it was close to 11 o’clock before the department had the assurance that the fire was under control. Then they did not leave the fire until early morning.
The fire see-sawed in the Burns block, burning most fiercely at the north end, then dying down for a few moments only to break out with renewed vigor at the south end. It was at the north partition wall, however, that the fire was worst. The two elevator shafts made a strong draft which kept the heaviest blaze pounding at this wall for hours. The firemen after battling from the front and rear, dragged several lines of hose to the roof of the north Burns block, mounted the dead wall, rising several feet above the roof of the north block, and kept up their efforts to stop the lire from spreading to the north side. These streams proved effective at last with the aid of the department’s new wagon pipe throwing a triple steamer stream.
The Board of Fire Commissioners of San Francisco has recommended to the Board of Supervisors that all horse-drawn apparatus of the tire department be supplanted by motor-driven engines, trucks, and carts, beginning with the next fiscal year. The supervisors are asked to incorporate in the budget for the coming fiscal year an appropriation of $1,000,000 to defray the cost of the new apparatus. An auto-driven chemical engine, the first to be acquired by the city has been installed in the quarters of Engine Company No. 2 at Bush and Kearney streets where it will undoubtedly prove invaluable as a first aid in holding ordinary fires in check until the arrival of the regular apparatus.