Test of a Fireproof Building.
Two recent fires in Chicago proved the value of stout party walls and a fireproof building. In one case, the flames broke out in the topmost floor—the eighteenth of the Tribune building, the cause of which was not known. The room in which it started was used for storage purposes, and, like the two others that suffered, was filled with records and other inflammable material, which burned rapidly. The flames, however, were confined to the three small rooms in which they originated, situated on the Dearborn side. It was the highest fire fought from the street level since the days of skyscrapers in Chicago. The flames were extinguished by water forced through the standpipe of the building to the top floor by fire engines, and the pressure proved ample. The blaze gave positive evidence of the safety ot towering buildings of modern construction, and showed that, no matter where a fire occurs in such a building, it is impossible for it to spread to any extent. The fire was discovered at 7:30 o’clock a. nt„ and an assistant janitor on the seventh floor turned in an alarm. It was just under the roof and the heat of the flames was indicated by the fact that the wire reinforced glass in the skylight melted in places and in others became so soft that it dropped down in fantastic shapes. In the section swept by the flames was a room used by the electrician and the carpenter of the Tribune company, and two rooms used for the records of the auditing department of the newspaper, containing data for a number of years back. Many of these records were destroyed. These three’ small rooms had glass windows set in their partitions of tire brick. This glass was destroyed by the heat and permitted the flames to spread. Had there been no glass in the fireproof partitions the flames, according to the firemen, would have been confined to one room. The partition walls were left intact and the floors were uninjured. The flames did not spread outside the outer partition wall separating the storage rooms from the corridor. In an adjoining department to the rooms where the records of the auditing department were stored were the tiles of the Tribune for the last sixty-seven years—ever since the paper was started. These papers, which could not be replaced, escaped injury except from the smoke. Five engine companies were called to the fire, but only one fought the flames. Assistant Marshal Seyferlich, who was in general command, commented upon the tire as follows: “I don’t recall another fire so high from the street surface since the era of tall buildings in Chicago. There have been fires in the upper floors of the Monadnock, the old Chamber of Commerce, the old Fisher building, and the Old Colony; but with one or two exceptions none of them started in the attic. The Tribune fire showed how impossible a blaze can obtain any headway under modern fireproof construction. There was no danger of the flames spreading at any time from the narrow area where they originated. The standpipe worked perfectly, two lines of hose being available, with plenty of pressure.” Two days before partial fire-resistant construction and a good attack bv the firemen with an. adequate supply of apparatus saved a great part of another big building, the large four-storv brick warehouse at 7 West Erie street near the bridge over the north branch of the river. The building was occupied by a metallic bed and a furniture manufacturing company. The fire had gained considerable headway before an alarm was turned in, late in the afternoon, and continued to blaze until after sundown. Being Saturday, the entire working force had left the place at four o’clock, and, as the night watchman did not go on duty until six o’clock, the flames, which arc supposed to have started in the storerooms of the furniture concern, made great progress before they were seen by a policeman. When the first company arrived it was found that the rear half of the first two floors, within walls unbroken save by a door or two, were filled with flames. A general alarm was sent in and Chief Horan, Assistant Chief Seyferlich, and a dozen companies responded, j he first men in the building discovered that a firewall divided the 215-ft. building half way back, and, in spite of the clouds of smoke, they dosed the iron doors that had been left open through neglect instead of being closed as the intention was they should be, saving all the front half of the structure except the upper floor, to which the fire-wall did not extend. Because of the surroundings the fight against the blaze was difficult. O11 three sides were the railroad yards of the Northwestern and in front was the Erie street bridge. Chief Horan estimated that as much hose was used as has been used in anv tire of recent years. The fireboat Illinois added two powerful streams with 300 lb. pressure to the total of the engines; but it was not until nearly 8 o’clock that any of the companies were ordered away. About 7 o’clock the front part of the roof was judged safe enough for the conduct of the fight from there, and it was while Assistant Chief Seyferlich was on that section that the rear half fell, carrying the floors down with it. He was standing near the safety line of the fire-wall and for a few moments it was thought he had been carried down. Fortunately he escaped.