THE JACKSONVILLE FIRE.
THE graphic accounts of the recent great fire at Jacksonville given by Mrs. Haney, wife of Chief Haney, of that city, and Bishop Weed, the head of the Episcopalian diocese, whose residence is there, which appeared last week in FIRE AND WATER, conveyed a very vivid idea of that awful confiagration and the suffering it hus entailed upon so many thousand homeless persons. Today a letter from R. N. Ellis, C. E., superintendent of the waterworks of Jacksonville, not only supplements the tales of woe already referred to, but also sets right some errors thnt were the natural offspring of the excitement of the moment. Among those were the statements that one of the pumping engines broke down, and that the water supply was exhausted. As will be seen from the letter of Mr. Ellis which appears elsewhere, there was no breakdown of engines, which were in “first-class condition,” nor was there any exhausting of the water. Three engines were kept hard at it pumping all the time, and the pressure, which had been raised within two minutes from the normal of sixty pounds to ninety pounds, was maintained above eighty-five pounds from 1:10 p. m. till 3 :30 p.m. when it began to fall, because the firemen were not able to shut off several hydrants from which they had been driven, which, therefore, continued flowing all the time, as did pipes which had been broken off in homes, whose inhabitants had left them, and garden hose in abundance which, after having been utilized for hours to wet down the roofs and woodwork, had finally to be abandoned. Under these conditions it was only to be expected that the pressure should drop to twenty pounds four hours after the fire had begun. When the first alarm was turned in, the waterworks had 3,000,000 gallons of water in store, with a flow from the wells of more than 5,000,000 gallons in twenty-four hours. Yet,when the fire had practically burned out all that was reached, there was still five feet of water in the reservoir. Supt. Ellis shows the weak spots in the fire-protective system of Jacksonville—weak points which are more or less common to all Southern and many Northern, Eastern, and Western towns and cities—namely,(l) entire dependence on direct pressure during a large conflagration, as proved by the weakening of the pressure by the open fire hydrants; (2) the “ indiscriminate use of garden hose, with the openings left tunning as houses burned down (8) the lack of a good reserve of steamers to fall back upon, even with the most efficient system of direct pressure; and (4) the prevailing use of shingle roofs, many of them so “old and punky” that, “when the burning fibre or shingles struck them, they burst into flames.” When the new Jacksonville arises, phcenixlike, from its ashes, all these, and any other defects in the line of fire protection will probably be remedied.