UNCERTAINTIES OF FIREFIGHTING.
A recent destructive fire at Meridian, Miss., serves to show the uncertainties connected with firefighting, and how, just as everything seems to be going in favor of the fire department, some unforeseen and unavoidable accident intervenes and handicaps it severely. Sometimes, also, as at Meridian, the permission granted to repair, instead of tear down a building whose presence is a menance to the surrounding property adds to the existing difficulties of the situation as well as to the fire loss. The blaze in question would probably never have occurred, had the frame shack in which it broke out been torn down, as was prooosed, and not been repaired under a permit from the city’ council. The outcome has been the destruction of a fine business building, with a loss of about $70,000 or more. The lire started in a frame shanty occupied by a tailor and a restaurant, the value of which, with its contents, would be easily covered by $800 or $1,000. The flames, which broke out at about 2 o’clock a. m. in the candy part of the restaurant and store, called out the entire department and could easily have been extinguished—were, in fact, completely under control—when the plug to which the hose was attached blew out. This plug was situated at the corner of Twenty-second avenue and Fifth street, where was the store of Winner, Klein & Co., in the rear of which was the burning shop. It was the only building afire, and only one stream was being thrown upon it. The unexpected accident, however, rendered that plug useless, and compelled the firemen to disconnect the hose and connect it to another plug set at a distance of two blocks from that corner. This necessitated some delay, and, before the department had set to work again, smoke w’as seen issuing from a window in the centre of the Winner, Klein & Co.’s building By the time that additional hose was laid, the flames, aided by the high wind, had made great headway in the second story. Within twenty minutes the walls began to fall, and in an hour and a half nothing remained but the ruins of one of the finest business buildings in the city. The inflammable nature of the contents—drygoods and groceries—created such an intense heat that the olateglass and other windows opposite were broken, but that loss was comparatively small. The good work of the department, handicapoed and all as it was, kept the fire within the limits of the two buildings where it broke out, and averted what at one time was feared might have been a disastrous conflagration. The stock of the grocery house was damaged $65,000 worth; the building was insured for $8,000. Chief Farrell and First Assistant Chief Massey and their men deserve the highest praise for their exertions, to which alone it was due that the row of brick buildings across the narrow alleyway dividing the block escaped with the loss of a few broken window lights in the second story. It is to be hoped that the city council has learned a wholesome lesson on the subject of frame construction, and that for the future it will not only not relax, but will rather render more stringent the provisions of its building laws.