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Knoxville Church Badly Damaged
The fire that recently destroyed the interior of the Episcopal Church of St. John, Knoxville, Tenn., is believed to have been caused by overheating the furnace during the morning service. The fire was discovered by the janitor shortly after the close of the service. When the department arrived and opened the door of the furnace room in order to reach the seat of the fire, such dense volumes of smoke rolled out that it was impossible to enter. Great streams of water were thrown into the basement and auditorium and finally the fire was brought under control and stopped without serious damage having been done to the exterior. The interior was completely ruined. Chief Boyd said that it was one of the most stubborn fires in the history of the department and also one of the most difficult to combat. “I never saw such condensed smoke,” he said, “and this made it impossible for any human being to have lived in the building before we opened the windows at the bottom and so created a draft which in a measure helped matters. It was not until then that firemen could enter the auditorium and cut holes in the floor, so that it could not get in the walls of the structure. From long experience 1 have learned that a crisis has been reached in any burning building when fire begins to climb the walls, for this threatens the support of the topmost parts of any structure. Our fear was that we couldn’t prevent the fire from climbing the walls. The work of flames after they get into walls is subtle at any time, and of course is rendered many times more dangerous when such condensed smoke conditions obtain as was the case in the church. We found the flames climbing the wall in one place, but directed our efforts against that point and managed to defeat the climb and the resulting destruction. I desire to express my appreciation of the men for their valiant and faithful work. Every man did his whole duty, and not only the officials of the fire department, but the people of Knoxville are grateful to them for the valor and faithfulness that saved one of the city’s most beautiful structures.” The loss is estimated at $60,000. Work will begin immediately on restoring the interior.