TWO SERIOUS FIRES IN NEW ORLEANS
On one evening and night recently, New Orleans had five fires within five hours, the loss being well on to $40,000, to say nothing of a “Black Hand” explosion in the early morning. These were followed by a sixth, not long after midnight. Had there been even an approach to decent water-pressure, the loss would have been comparatively trifling. Between 5:30 and 6:30 p. m., a whole row of residences, chiefly frame, was burned at the intersection of North Villere and Laharpe streets, which caused a loss of $25,000. It started from a miserable blaze that could have been extinguished in a short time, if there had been sufficient water-pressure. As it was, a general and repeated general alarm had to be turned in. Chief O’Connor states that at no time was there a 10-lb. pressure in the hydrants. After several had been tried to no purpose, Assistant Frie Chief Pujol ordered the engines to be disconnected and connections made with the Claibourne canal, four blocks away. “Three engines were at first connected with three hydrants in the immediate neighborhood when the pumps began working (says Chief Pujol). There was no response at first, and, finally, when water did come from one of the plugs, the stream it sent went scarcely 10 ft. The destruction of the building occupied by chemical No. 4 would have been prevented easily, had there been water. After the hose had been laid along the streets for the three engines we had tried to operate, it was impossible to drag the chemical engine to a place of safety when we discovered we had no water.” “It was an outrage the way we had to fight for water,” declared Fire Chief O’Connor when the worst was over. “If there had been even 30-lb. pressure in the plugs, the fire w’ould have been put out before it destroyed the building in which is originated. As it was, we were virtually helpless in the presence of a raging conflagration until we obtained w’ater from the canal. The situation was utterly inexcusable, and the responsibility for it should be fixed where it properly belongs. The same difficulty was encountered at the fire which occurred at Bienville and North Rampart streets an hour after the first fire started. Perhaps, twenty minutes were lost before enough water was secured to set the engines working. My men responded gallantly and did their best; but, with no water in reach, what could be expected?” The destruction of the chemical engine building was complete. Captain Phillip Gallicio and his crew lost all of their clothes and other belongings. Valuable fire apparatus was also lost. The helplessness of the firemen, who were compelled to witness the destruction of their building because of an utter absence of w’ater, was pitiable. The criticism by the officials of the fire department of the lack of water was reinforced by the unconcealed contempt of the pipemen, who fought desperately to stay the flames, handicapped as they were by an inadequate water supply. The second fire was in the attic of a 3 story brick boardinghouse. The loss was $2,000. After the 20-minutes’ wait for water, the flames were soon extinguished. The third fire was at the corner of Poydras and Magazine streets, it broke out while the department was working on the boardinghouse blaze. It was a bad fire and caused one man’s death and injury to Chief O’Connor and others. The fourth was a $5 affair on Race street. The fifth alarm came from Claiborne and Euphrosine streets, where fire from an unknown cause had broken out in a carload of turpentine in the government yards of the Illinois Central railroad. The damages to the car amounted to $400, while about $5 worth of turpentine was lost. A sixth fire, following close on that in Magazine street, started at 1 o’clock a. m. and totally destroyed aboiu twenty-five cottages in the square bounded by Saratoga, Franklin, Delachaise and Foucher streets. Several other adjoining blocks were threatened or caught fire. The brisk wind of the day before was still blowing, and there was scarcely any water supply. The firemen were, therefore, compelled to tear down buildings that stood in the path of the flames.
Of these fires that are mentioned above, the worst was that at Magazine, Berlin and Milan streets. It was stopped at St. Henry’s Roman Catholic church, as shown in the accompanying illustration. The shed of the schoolhouse fell and caught Chief O’Connor, Assistant Chief Lefean, Captain O. Earnhardt of engine company No. 19, injuring all more or less severely, Capt. Earnhardt badly about the ribs. One man, F. Jung, also, was killed. The origin of the blaze is unknown; but the buildings, which were from two to twelve years old, were not adapted to resist fire. When the department arrived, they were all enveloped in flames, and defied the efforts of the eleven engines and the four chemical engines, with their strong crews as well as those of three hook and ladder companies and three full salvage crews, with their three wagons Eleven engine streams were thrown at one time 5,000 ft. of Eureka hose with 1 -in. and iJ4-in. nozzles being used. Of the hose not one length burst. The wind was blowing at the rate of 60 miles an hour. The pressure at the hydrants, which were 2 1/2 in. double and distant about 400 ft. from each other, was about a6 lb. The width of the street in front of the burning building was 35 ft.; the dimensions of the water main were 6 in. The illustrations accompanying this notice represent the following scenes: No. 1.— General of the ruins at Magazine, Berlin and Milan streets. No. 2.—View of St. Henry’s Roman Catholic church, next to which the fire was stopped. Boys are playing in the ruins of the schoolhouse, whose shed fell and caught Chief O’Connor and others. No. 3 shows the spot (marked in white), where Jung’s dead body was found after the fire on Magazine, Berlin and Milan streets. No. 4 shows the square bounded by Saratoga, Delachaise and Foucher streets, where the second fire broke out, white the department was leaving the first fire in the front of the theatre. The ruins are on Foucher street.