The Central Arcade, Schenectady, N. Y., consisting of about 17 stores on the ground floor, and offices, society rooms and printing plant above, was burned early in the morning of February 1. Two alarms were turned in shortly after 4 o’clock, calling the entire department, and the firemen were unable to check the flames. At 8 o’clock the entire structure was a mass of ruins, though the walls had not yet fallen. The building was situated between the New York Central tracks and the Erie canal, and extended from Union to Liberty street. There were no adjacent structures, so the fire did not spread beyond the building in which it started. The firemen never flinched from their fight with the flames, although the temperature was 8° below zero, and scores of them were frostbitten. When the fire readied Ryan’s garage, a gasoline tank exploded, hurled a fireman 40 ft. and landed him on the railway embankment. He was badly bruised. There were three smaller explosions when the tanks of the automobiles blew up. The city’s new gasoline fire engine was given a thorough test under the most unfavorable conditions and was a great success. The loss on the building and stock is placed at $90,000. There was $40,000 insurance on the structure and about $10,000 on stock. The cause of the fire is a mystery. The Central Arcade was formerly the Clute Brothers’ machine shop, where the famous U. S. S. Monitor, which defeated the Merrimac in Hampton Roads during the Civil war, was built. During the fire three companies were called away from the Arcade fire to Turner’s hall, a mile away, where they found a stubborn blaze in a store ceiling, which did considerable damage before it was extinguished. In the meantime detachments of firemen went to two residence fires, which were easily extinguished. Owing to exposure under such severe atmospheric conditions, many of the firemen were badly frostbitten. Chief Henry R. Yates suffered extremely, his face being frozen. Deputy Chief Derra, also, was injured by one of the explosions and was obliged to go under medical treatment.


Another correspondent sends the following report : The Central Arcade building was erected at different periods, one portion being sixty years old, the other—the front part—twenty. It was an unsprinklered brick structure, with a 3story front and a 2-story rear, and stood in the western part of the city, on a street 35 ft. wide, on a site along the Erie canal bank, between the canal and the New York Central railway. The cause of the fire is unknown; but, whatever its origin, it must have been burning for some time before it was discovered, as, when Chief Yates and the department arrived, which was as soon as ever the alarm sounded, the whole building was a mass of flame. To fight the blaze Chief Yates brought into action three engines—1 firstclass American-La France, 1 second-class Clapp & Jones, and the new second-class gasoline Westinghouse. The available hydrants were all 6-in. double, with an average distance of 250 ft. between each, involving the laying of 7,500 ft. of double-jacket, rubber-lined hose, one length of which was burned and another cut, but none burst, which was satisfactory. The pressure was about 98 lb., the direct supply from the 8-in. main in front of the building being amply sufficient to keep going ten hydrant and 6 engine streams—16 in all being thrown at one time. The building was divided off by lath and plaster partitions. Only one fire wall was interposed between the two sections, the older and the younger, and all the firedoors in that were open! It is, therefore, no wonder that the flames spread so rapidly from one portion of the building to the other, gutting all the stores ($40,000 worth of whose contents were not insured), and ruining the whole structure. The total loss was $90,000, with an insurance of $40,0000 on the building and $10,000 on the contents.


“During the fire there were frequent explosions from back draughts, and these blew out front after front. One explosion blew up two firemen. f. Henry and W. Parker, a height of 4 ft., Parker being seriously hurt. Another explosion blew the windows out of buildings 200 ft. away. We had all sizes of nozzles—lj^-in. and l*4-in., with all sorts of large streams, 2 Glayers, Eastman and water tower; but, owing to the lowness of the building and its poor construction, the sixteen streams thrown held the fire in check. At the same time as the big fire was on box 31 called companies 1, 7 and 8, which had been held in reserve, to a blaze in Turnverein hall, in quite another part of the city. Besides these two fires, there was also another, quite a bad one, in a notion store. Everything, however, worked perfectly well. The department was promptly on hand each time, and the supply of water was good. Only the weather was bad—10 degrees below zero 1”

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