Smashed Windows with Shotgun
Water, smoke and fire combined to cause the $63,000 damage at a recent fire in Pittsfield, Mass., which started from cause not definitely known, although a workman said that the electric lights had not been working properly, thereby suggesting the possibility of wire trouble. The building was a four-story brick, about 25 years old and was owned by James M. Burns and occupied by Rice & Kelly, furniture dealers. The fire was discovered at 4.40 p. m., in the elevator shaft, by an employee who immediately telephoned the fire department. The box alarm sounded at 4.47. calling out all apparatus from the central station. When the firemen arrived the entire top floor was filled with smoke and Chief William C. Shepard asked Charles L. Johnson, dentist, to smash all the windows on the east side of the top floor, which he did with a shotgun from the street, thereby furnishing the most spectacular incident of the fire. With a slight breeze from the west these openings acted as a ventilator for the smoke and enabled the firemen to fight the blaze to advantage from the rear when the aerial ladder was placed. Chamber furniture, including mattresses and pillows, comprised the goods in stock on the top floor and caused most of the dense smoke. A blind attic also made trouble and the blaze finally ate its way through the roof. Captain Alexander Volin and Captain Donald MacDonald of the fire department used smoke masks to advantage, but could not get through to the fire because of the heat. One fireman, William A. Hanford, was overcome by smoke, but later recovered at fire headquarters. Hanford had discarded his mask just before he was overcome. Considering the very inflammable stock in which the fire raged, the firemen did good work in keeping the blaze on the top floor. The “all out” was sounded at 8.45. The entire building, however, in which are four stores on the first floor, was flooded with water, poured in for four hours during a part of the time from eight lines of hose. There were 45 men engaged, who employed a Metropolitan Engine, a Silsby, two motor combinations and an aerial truck. Ten hydrants, 6″ double, were available, spaced at 500 feet and had a water pressure of 95 pounds; 3,950 feet of hose were laid and four hydrant and four engine streams were thrown at one time from l 1/8-inch nozzles.