Quincy Has Destructive Fire

Quincy Has Destructive Fire


A very destructive fire, starting from what was set down as on unknown cause destroyed the Dayton Tablet Works on Second street, between Hampshire and Vermont streets—a very congested part of Quincy, Ill. It also damaged badly the plants of the following companies: The Mississippi Valley Blank Book & Stationers Manufactory, American Papeteric & Envelope, Quincy Photo Engraving, the Grimm Boiler Works and the Eagle Tobacco Factory (the last two only slightly). The tablet works was a substantial, three-story brick building, or rather pile of buildings, with a wide frontage and two wings, and extending far back into Second street. It employed 450 persons, 80 per cent, of whom were girls, and was filled with valuable machinery and a costly stock of paper and finished work ready for shipping. As the fire was not discovered till 7:38 p. m., there were no ememployes in the building except three watchmen, two of whom seemed to have seen the blaze aimost simultaneously, the last, when he saw smoke issuing from the basement; the first, when he found the flames in’the stockroom and turned in an alarm. Within two minutes the first set of firemen arrived, soon to be followed by the whole department, and found the stockroom in its center part on Second street blazing fiercely and the big stock of paper all alight. The flames had already reached the roof and were spreading to the two larger buildings on each side. There had been no attempt made by the watchmen to stop the course of the fire —no private appliances for fire protection could have availed against the rapid progress of the blaze. A strong southwest wind also helped to further the advance of the flames, which kept rapidly spreading to the two large buildings on each side and to the west wing. The third story was soon a mass of fire. In fact, before any streams could be thrown on the burning stockroom, the flames had more than reached the roof and were eating their way from the front end away back, till from north to south there was no part of the building that was not burning fiercely. On Vermont and Front streets many buildings were in danger of destruction. and during the whole course of the conflagration almost continual streams of water were thrown upon these so as to keep down the small fires that were constantly breaking out. Seeing that the south and north buildings could not he saved, the firemen made most strenuous efforts to save the office section, in which were many valuable records, plans, etc., some of which were got out entire; others, however, were destroyed, and unfortunately, can never tie replaced. The endeavors of the department were unsuccessful, and for some time it seemed as if the buildings on Vermont and Front streets, as well as that of the Eagle Tobacco Factory must share the fate of those which had already been burned. Fortunately, however, the stout brick wall of the tablet works on the one side and that of the tobacco factory on the other preserved the latter, and the streams continuously thrown on those on the streets above mentioned averted their destruction. The building of the Mississippi Valley Blank Book factory, a two-story brick structure, was not so fortunate. The presses and much valuable machinery were in the basement, and although three streams of water were thrown on it from the roof of the Eagle factory, it seemed doomed, and would have been gutted had it not been for the efforts of some volunteers, who were in the crowd of whose services Chief Marriotte w>as glad to avail himself as he had only a force of 43 men at his disposal. The Quincy Photo Engraving Company’s plant also suffered a loss of $7,000, and it was not till long after 10 o’clock that the flames in its building were extinguished. The main fire, after net e hours of the hardest work, was under con_____ at 10:15 p. m. The water supply never failed and the firemen, notwithstanding the intense heat and the difficulty of getting at the seat of the fire (adjoining roofs, especially that of the tobacco factory had to be utilized), and their narrow escapes due to falling walls and the fire ladders, being burned, compelling the men to take hazardous jumps down to the roofs of freight cars, worked splendidly. The origin of the fire no one knows, although some of the girl workers when leaving after their day’s work are said to have smelled smoke in the building. But where there was so much machinery and such a large amount of waste paper and oily waste on the floors, it is not impossible that the blaze started from spontaneous combustion, or the butt of a cigarette or cigar may have been carelessly thrown down and caused a smouldering fire among the rubbish. But 43 firemen are not enough for a city like Quincy.

The Progressive Union of New Orleans, La., and the Louisiana Chapter of the American Institute of Architects have come to the conclusion that there is too much poor construction and an excess of fire hazard in that city. Most particularly is this the case, thgy claim, in the downtown districts.

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