TWO DESTRUCTIVE FIRES.
New York and Pittsburgh, Pa., have this week been the scenes of two fires, each of which has presented unusual features. That in New York was remarkable rather for its extent than the loss of property which might have been expected from the extent of the district burned over, while the loss in Pittsburgh was out of all proportion to the size of the building destroyed.
The fire in Greenpoint in the borough of Brooklyn, broke out at 3:30 o’clock a. m., and swept the south shore of Newtown creek from Oakland street to Setauket street, and back to Dupont and Probststreets and Bridge avenue—a district covering nine acres, seven of which were occupied by the factories, stables, and lumber yards of the principal loser, Edward C. Smith, a box manufacturer, whose chief loss was 20,000,000 feet of lumber. The fire department on arriving found the Smith factory and shed one blaze, some storehouses well alight, and the large works of the Standard Oil, the Brooklyn Oil company, and others threatened. Had not the wind been from the northwest, and had not the standing fire apparatus of two of the factories been called into play, the whole neighborhood on that side would have been doomed. Newtown creek and the three fireboats. Seth Low, D. A. Boody, and R. A Van Wyck, besides some private fireboats, and the interposition of a fireproof building saved another large lumber yard. Alarm upon alarm was sent out, and the Brooklyn apparatus, besides eight fire engines from Manhattan, were in attendance. Chief Dale was in full command and, with his force, kept creeping on, beating back the flames, very slowly at first, but surely in the end. At one time the lives of forty firemen who were working in a narrow alley were in peril; but no serious accidents occurred. It may be noticed that just at this point a building, which was supposed to be fireproof, and was treated accordingly, turned traitor, and proved a source of real peril to the firemen, who had to run for their lives and abandon their hose. That so many lumber yards, factories, and oil buildings were saved was due to Chief Dale and his firemen, who were sorely handicapped by lack of water—the mains in the district, which is one of the most inflammable in Brooklyn, being too small and badly fed. The fireboats and the Newtown creek saved the day. The loss has been variously estimated at from $800,000 to $300,000—the latter being a conservative estimate. Nineteen years ago Smith’s factory, where the fire broke out (some say an incendiary caused it), was wiped out by a fire which caused several deaths and injury to many persons.
For the second time in three years the big department store of Joseph Horne & Co., Fifth street and Penn avenue, Pittsburgh, was burned. The fire was seen shortly after 12 o’clock, on Sunday morning. The flames were then coining out of the restaurant windows on the eighth floor. In five minutes the whole roof was ablaze, and although the whole fire department was quickly on the spot, the flames ate their way down through the “fireproof” floors so quickly that to the second floor all was a mass of fire. By the time the first floor was reached, the deluge of water thrown began to produce some impression; but the remedywas as destructive as the disease, and all the rich silks, etc., were ruined. The steel frame of the building and its so-called “fireproof” qualities kept the flames within itself, and no damage resulted to property adjoining, though every preparation was made by those near by to profit by their experience three years ago, when the Horne fire took with it half a dozen other buildings. During the fire, when eleven firemen were on one side of the fire escapes, a pair of iron shutters fell from above right into their midst; but all escaped with injuries no more serious than bruises. The origin of the fire is still a mystery. The loss is set down at $1,750,000—insured for $1,250,000. If the steel frame work is too warped to be used again with safety, then the whole must come down—making the loss nearly $2,000,000.
All who were present bore witness to the splendid work done by the fire department. But the lack of sufficient water pressure bore witness to the correctness of Chief Humphrey’s insistence upon the necessity of laying larger mains or for some auxiliary fire system to operate from the two rivers.