The Pennsylvania’s New Station Ablaze.
The fine new ferry-house and depot of the Pennsylvania Railroad at Jersey City were badly damaged by fire early on Friday morning of last week. The wind was from the east or the ferry-house would have been destroyed. One-half of the handsome new office building of the company was laid in ruins and the flames wrecked the splendid train shed roof for a length of forty feet. The flames first showed in the old frame building, which for years had been used for offices. There was a loud explosion, and almost instantly the whole structure was enveloped in flame. The locomotives in the yard aroused the neighborhood with their whistles, and soon there was a crowd on the scene. It appeared as if the whole stretch of the company’s buildings was aflame. A shower of sparks was carried for a distance of a quarter of a mile and threatened many wooden buildings with destruction. Affrighted tenants were kept busy saturating roofs with water.
The flames were carried by the wind toward the train shed and the five-story brick office building. Massive iron doors are pjaced in the halls of the building and those were promptly closed, and thus one-half of the building was saved. The portion destroyed was that occupied by the superintendents, engineering bureau, train despatches telegraph o|>crators and baggage master. The flames moved so rapidly that very little was saved from the several offices.
When Battalion Chief Guiton of Jersey City arrived he sent out in rapid succession the second ami third alarms. The fire tugs quickly steamed up. and powerful streams were directed on the flames. All the engines of the city department fought the flames from the opposite side, and within an hour the fire was under control. It caused a suspension of traffic for three hours. The loss is variously estimated up to $75,000. It is stated that the blaze was caused by an explosion of gas.
THEY BOUGHT BURNING HOUSES —One of the strangest businesses in Ancient Rome is mentioned by Juvenal in his Satires, and we hear of it also, as a writer in The Evening Standard observes, from historians. It consisted of buying houses on fire. The speculator hurried to the scene, attended by slaves carrying bags of money, and others carrying tools, judged the chances of salvage, and made a bid to the distracted houseowner, who was glad to accept anything as a rule. The bargain struck in all haste, this earliest of fire-assurers set his slaves to work and secured what he could. Sometimes even he put out the flames, and so made a coup. It was a business for capitalists, but the poorest who speculated in a small way could hardly lose if he had presence of mind enough to grasp the chances. Thus Cato the Elder, and, above all, Crassus, laid the foundations of their great wealth. The latter had a ,™».uu passion for IUI >utn such gamming. gambling. lie gradually collected a force of masons, and such artificers—slaves of course— which reached 500 men. Not only did he buy houses on fire, but also, enlarging upon the common practice, he made a bid for those adjoining which stood in danger, His proposals were commonly welcome, we learn, so helpless were the people and so great the peril. By this means Crassus became the greatest owner of house property in Rome.
A RESERVOIR Bursts.—Mail advices bring accounts of a cataclysms! visitation at Cartago, Costa Rica, ftotn October 27 to 30. The whole lower portion of the city was inundated, and the tramways and electric light plants were totally destroyed, and the railway lines were washed away in all directions. The disaster occasioned the loss of many lives, but up to the date of advices no estimate of the total number could be obtained. It rained all night in great torrents, and toward the early morning the big reservoir burst and ere day began to dawn the entire western portion of the city had become one immense lake.
The government has forwarded $5000 to the scene of the disaster by a commission, the amount to be used in succoring the unfortunate and homeless. The war department has sent a detachment of troops to co-operate with and assist the Cartago police.