STATE PIER DESTROYED IN PROVIDENCE, R. I., FIRE
Three Calls Sent to Extinguish Flames That Continued for 31 Hours — Firemen Have Difficulty in Reaching Burning Beams
FOR thirty-one hours, the Fire Department of Providence, R. I., under command of Chief Frank Charlesworth, was faced with the difficult task of extinguishing a fire in State Pier No. 1. because of the obstacles in reaching the seat of the fire. The pier was seven hundred feet long by 135 feet, two stories high and constructed of steel and cement. It was supported by wooden piers. All of the wooden floor was covered with eight inches of cement. The building had concrete walls and was provided with sprinkler protection.
The pier was dedicated May, 1914. Construction followed the voting of a $1,500,000 bond issue in 1911. It was one of two piers under the jurisdiction of the State Harbor Commission.
According to fire department estimates, the fire started about 2 a.m., February 25, from an unknown cause. Some time between 3:30 and 4 a.m., the fire was discovered by a watchman and an alarm sent. However, officials say that the handle was not operated properly for no signal was received at Fire Alarm Headquarters. At 3:59 a.m., a police sergeant discovered the fire and sent in an alarm.
When the first companies arrived all the piling under the pier was blazing. A second alarm was sent at 4:10, and two hours later a special call was sent for three additional engine companies. The tugs Maurania and the Gaspee aiding in fighting the fire. There were planks two by ten running from pile to pile and all streams that were in use struck the planks and did not succeed in reaching the flames.
When the piles were weakened by the flames, the pier tipped. This broke the floor and allowed some of the fire to get up into the building. Up to this time (8:30 a.m.) the fire was confined to the piles.
Both the first and second alarms each brought three pumpers and a ladder truck. Ninety-five firemen responded.
An eight-inch main supplied water at sixty pounds pressure. Twenty-two hose streams were used provided with 1, 1 1/8 and 1 1/2-inch nozzles. Four streams were supplied by hydrants, and eighteen were supplied by water pumped from the river. Cellar pipes were also used.
Chief Charlesworth and four firemen were injured, but none seriously.
The pier contained a varied assortment of merchandise which was not damaged by the flames. This fire is considered the worst waterfront fire in the history of Providence.