Heavy Loss in Taunton, Mass., from Blaze in Place of Amusement—Spreads to Other Buildings in Near Proximity

THE business section of Taunton, Mass., was threatened recently when flames destroyed the Park Theatre and the H. O. Rogers silver factory. So menacing did the situation appear that Chief Fred A. Leonard, of the Taunton Fire Department, sounded a general alarm and summoned assistance from Brockton and Attleboro.

The fire originated from an unknown cause in the boiler room in the rear of the Park Theatre on Court Street. This was a 4-story brick structure, 35 years old, and occupying 600 square feet fronting on a 40-foot street. The theatre was a mass of flames which had involved the entire building when the first apparatus arrived on the scene in response to a box alarm at 6:14 a. m.

The building had no partition walls or sprinkler system and was in close proximity to surrounding structures which were separated by narrow alleyways. A stiff breeze was blowing which fanned the flames to fury and sent embers flying over the neighborhood. When the rear wall of the theatre fell it crashed directly into the H. O. Rogers silver factory, carrying the flames to this large brick plant which was quickly involved.

The exposure hazard to nearby buildings was great and the heat and flying sparks started other blazes on both sides of the theatre building. Damage was caused to the Cavanaugh Block, the roof and tower of the District Court Building, the roof and one end of the Church and Burt Stable, roof and chimney of the Odd Fellows’ Hall, and to roofs of the New Process Twist Drill Company and the W. R. Park & Son buildings.

The fire was stopped in the rear on the banks of the Mill River, a brook 30 feet wide surrounded by frame structures. The Burt stable building which has been used recently as a garage made ready fuel for the flames and it was only after a hard fight that the blaze was checked at this point with the aid of the out of town apparatus. The duration of the fire was 10 hours, but it was brought under control shortly after 9 o’clock.

The apparatus in service consisted of four Ahrens-Fox 750-gal. pumpers, five hose wagons, two Maxim city service trucks, one couple gear aerial truck with electric drive, all of the Taunton Fire Department; one Seagrave pumper and one Seagrave hose car from Brockton; and one Ahrens-Fox pumper from Attleboro. There were 100 firemen at the scene. Department operations were under direction of Chief Leonard, of Taunton, who was assisted by Chief William F. Daley, of Brockton, and Deputy Chief Gould, of Attleboro.

There were seven 6-inch double hydrants available, about 500 feet apart. The water pressure was 60 pounds at the hydrants. Twelve hydrant lines and three engine lines were used, the largest number of streams in action at the same time being fifteen. The water mains were 12-inch. Size of nozzles used was 1 1/8-inch and the amount of hose in service was 5,600 feet of 2 1/2-inch cotton rubber lined hose. One length of hose burst. The water pressure was not sufficient to furnish good hydrant and engine streams.

The estimated value of the propety was $328,000 and of the contents $89,000. The loss on the buildings was $136,760 and the loss on the contents $70,505.85.

Two Views of Big Fire in Taunton, Mass. Upper Picture Shows Tower of District Court Building Damaged by the Blaze

The statistics in this report were furnished through the courtesy of Chief Leonard, of Taunton, and Chief Daley of Brockton.

Massachusetts Governor Urges Fire Prevention—Governor Alvan T. Fuller of Massachusetts in his inaugural address urged increased interest and attention to the problem of fire prevention.

Boy Fined $50 for Sounding Alarm—A 10-year old boy of Lynn, Mass., was fined fifty dollars and given two months in which to pay the fine to the court for sounding a false alarm. Chief Edward A. Chase of Lynn was in court and asked for a heavy fine as in his judgment, it was the only way to prevent boys from turning in false alarms.


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