SERIOUS FIRE IN PITTSBURG
Specially written for FIEE AND WATER ENGINEERING.
The East Liberty section of Pittsburg, Pa., has of late had three narrow escapes from being swept by fire. Six months ago the fire department had all it could do to confine a blaze within the limits of the East End Mantel and Tile company’s plant, and three months after that the establishment of the Enterprise Cleaning company was burned and about a month ago another blaze broke out in the last nameu plant, which spread to two garages and a dozen buildings, causing a loss of $200,000. The area swept by the flames was bounded by Center avenue, Baum street, South Highland avenue and Commercial alley, which separated the burning buildings from the East Liberty market, which last was on fire six times, but suffered little loss. Trade alley is a narrow thoroughfare, and m it the firemen had to fight the fire. Within the limits of these four streets almost every building was destroyed, except a few business houses near South Hightland avenue and Commissary avenue on the north and the intersections of the first named avenue and Center avenue, hour firemen were severely, but not dangerously hurt, one by falling from a ladder, another by being struck by a nozzle that got away from him and broke his ankle. The two others were cut or badly bruised by bricks and Hying glass. An east wind and the explosion of large quantities of gasoline and oils soon spread the flames through the frame structures that made up the food the fire had to feed on. The first alarm was turned in at alxrut 3 o’clock p ni., after a slight explosion of gasoline on the EiiLetprise Cleaning company’s (premises. 1 he ahvrm >vas hardly turned in before the flames had leaped across Commercial alley the narrow thoroughfare in the rear, and caught the stables of the hast End Mantel and Tile company. The frame buildings on each side immediately burst into flame, and, lie fore the first fire company arrived, the entire business block was in danger of being con stinted. A second alarm called out three additional companies and a third, nearly every company in the East End and Oakley districts. On each side of Commercial alley were flimsy frame shacks, filled with large quantities of gasoline, which kept constantly exploding as the cans were carried out. spreading the fire on every side. What with the gasoline, and what with hack draughts and the frame buildings, the fire department had no chance, even although the engines were throwing scores of streams on the names. In less than twenty minutes the block, whose heart was made up of wooden structures, was a mass of fire. On the west side, on the C.nter avenue side, was the big East Liberty market, which, however, was saved, almost intact, bv the ’good work of the firemen. On the north side of Baum were several of the largest garages in the city. Among the five buildings burning on Center avenue below the Enterprise Cleaning company’s establishment was the garage of the Liberty Automobile company, from which the employes succeeded in safely running out scores of expensive machines. On the upper side of the Enterprise building were consumed the Allen Carpet and Rug Weaving company and a plum ber’s store, and right here a stout party wall halted the flames on the east side of the fire belt. In the rear of the Enterprise concern, as lias been said, several frame stables of the East End MaiUel and Tile company’s tall brick buildini’ were burned! The cornices of this structure caught fire, and the firemen had to light the flames from scaling ladders and the narrow street. The top floor was first gutted, and from it the flames traveled downwards through the whe le of the building. Only the heroic work of the department in at once extinguishing whatever fire started on the rciofs of the other garages prevented these from being destroyed. It was on the Baum side that the four men were injured, and that they or any escaped death w’as little short of a miracle, as the crumbling frame buildings, falling bricks and live wires that came down with the wall of the mantel company’s building not only carried away the adjoining laundry company’s establishment, but imperiled the lives of the men who were working round it.
I he crews of engine companies 8 and 16 were working inside, while above them and round them were fire and smoke. Many were temporarily overcome by smoke and heat and at last Chief Miles S. Humphreys ordered all of them out into the street. The men of engine company No. 6, under Lieutenant Michael Moore, had the narrowest of escapes. They were operating outside and would have lost their lives, if an employe of the Liberty Automobile company had not given them warning of the approaching fall of the wall. They had just time to drop their hose and run out to safety. The fire raged most fiercely in Commercial alley, and the firemen suffered terribly front the heat. The clothing of the crews of engines Nos. 14 and 28 caught fire and many were burned. Some lay prostrate on the ground in the water and directed the streams while in that posture. As the heat grew intenser they kept dashing muddy, but cooling water in each other’s faces. No wonder the firemen dread box 743, as a hoodoo box. The almost universal prevalence of frame buildings in the East End, which up to the time of the fire was not subject to the fire-limits law, have more than once rendered the destruction of that section much more than a possibility. The East End fire was the second in one day, in which gasoline played a prominent part. Some hours before fourteen persons narrowly escaped death—being carried down ladders by the firemen and $10,000 worth of damage was done 911 the premises of the Club Cleaning and Pressing company in Penn avenue, near Shady avenue. A small can of gasoline exploded in the building, but three tanks of the stuff kept in a one-story annex in the rear escaped. It was a close call, however.
At the recent meeting of the County club at Farmington, Conn., there were present among other fire chiefs and persons interested in firefighting hire Commissioner Clark and Chief Krug, of Hartford, and Chief Croker, Battalion Chief Ur. Archer and Captain Rush, of the New York city fire department. With others, they were the guests of Dr. F. S. Dennis, of New York.