RESCUE OF FIREMAN CRONIN.
On Christmas day, early in the evening, a somewhat spectacular $500,000 fire broke out in the six-story building, 102-106 Wooster street, Manhattan, New York, occupied by five business concerns, four of whom were manufacturers of clothing or furs, and the fifth of paper boxes. The new building was supposed to be fireproof, but totally belied its pretensions. Five alarms were turned in, bringing nearly thirty engines and six hook and ladder trucks and a water tower. The neighborhood being highly congested and the water pressure (as the firemen’s officers complained) being low, necessitated the call for extra apparatus. The house of engine company 13 is immediately opposite No. 102. Its lieutenant sent in a second alarm and Battalion Chief Worth, a third, followed in quick succession by two more. The flames issued from every window and for two hours there -was a hard fight to get them under control. It took four engines to feed the water tower, which registered sixty, instead of 120 pounds. All the fire escapes were manned by the department to fight the flames through the windows. Battalion Chief Worth led thirty men into the building. The crew of engine No. 27, on the fourth-floor fire escape of No. 102 Wooster street, were the main actors in the most thrilling incident. Ten men were liolding a wriggling hose at the windows when a back draught drove a sheet of flame out of the third floor window at their feet. Smoke enveloped them. Fireman Cronin was holding the nozzle of the hose that was pumping like a fighting bulldog. Had he loosed his hold, the sixty pounds pressure of water would have bowled the ten men off the fire escapes like so many peas. But Cronin held on with grim des peration. One by one the ten men under him crept through the flames and smoke down the fire ladders to safety. It was not until the last had gone that Cronin could forsake his post. Then it was too late to follow. The flame below him was a sheet. No man could go through it alive. Cronin jammed the wriggling nozzle through the window, and sprang up the fire escape in time to escape the recoil, lie ascended through the flame and smoke to the fifth floor and then to the sixth and last. There was no ladder to take him to the roof. He was trapped, for the fl’tncs inside had already mounted the elevator shaft to the top floor. None but an athlete and a man of nerve could have extricated himself as Cronin did. In the pitchy darkness of the smoke and the night he edged inch bv inch along the narrow coping that met the adjoining building five lect below its roof. There was safety, if he could get to the end. He got to the end. and there his strength gave out, lie could not pull himself to the roof. Slowly the electric light below searched the side of the building for tlic lost fireman. Its round disk fell on Cronin clinging by his fingers to the coping above, his feet resting on the narrow ledge below. If that coping fell he knew that would be his end. Quick as a flash axes smashed doors in No. 100. Lieut. Smith and Firemen Chartres and Sherman ran to the roof. They caught the wrists of poor Cronin, and in the glare of the light dragged him to the safety of the roof. Ten minutes later Cronin was fighting fire again with engine 27. The band of thirty that Chief Worth led into the building were driven back at the third floor. Worth ordered them to the street. Before the last man was out, the stairway they had been on a few seconds before fell with a crash. Chief Worth fell through a hole in the grating outside as he fled, wrenching his legs so painfully that he was disabled and was sent home in a carriage. Fireman McGrath went through the same hole and suffered similarly. He was sent to St. Gregory’s hospital in Gold street. Five other firemen were more or less severely hurt: but all were treated in engine house 17 by surgeons from St. Vincent’s and other hospitals. Twelve girls only were at work in No. 100 instead of nearly 100. They were got down safelv to the street. At the Spring and Wooster street corner is the Telephone exchange, in which the smoke was so thick that the twenty girls could work only in relays. No words of praise can be too high for the work done by the firemen, who took their lives in their hands all the time. They fought the fire from the roofs of adjoining buildings when they were driven ofl the fire escapes, and thus confined the flames to the warehouse itself. It was not under control until 8 o’clock. All round were warehouses filled with rich silks and other costly wares. It all escaped even a singeing. At another fire in Baumerstein’s Piano company’s sixstory building at 534-307 West Fifty-eighth street, early on Christmas morning, the. huge plant of the Consolidated Gas company immediately opposite, two six-story tenements adjoining the burning house on the cast, and the Roosevelt hospital only half a block away, the same good work confined the flames to the place of origin. There was the same complaint of inadequate water pressure. The loss was $60,000.
Incendiary fires in Boston and its suburbs have increased considerably of late. They are chiefly set by mischievous boys who like to give the firemen a run. Fire Commissioner Wells has issued a notice that any boys caught at sttcb work will be arrested and severely punished. He points out that “every call to these small and usually in themselves not dangerous fires, uncovers other territory, and the absence of the apparatus might easily be the cause of loss of property and even life In certain sections of the citv the setting of fires and the sounding of false alarms is becoming a serious menace to the public safety.”