United States Steel Corporation Burned at Shelby.
Shelby, Ohio, is a small city of about 5,500 inhabitants and a fire-area of 3,840 acres. Its mercantile buildings generally are 3-story; its private residences, 2-story and of wood, with wooden roofs. It has a mixed fire department, under Chief E. A. Johnson, of which about two-thirds are volunteers. They are well drilled and under good discipline and are summoned by a fire-bell and whistle. For extinguishing fire the chief reliance is placed upon hydrant pressure, the pressure at the hydrants, of which there are about 112 being too lb. The principal industry of the place is the United States Steel Corporation company, situated in the southwest portion of the city. Its plant occupies a space of from 6 to 8 acres and is made of buildings from i-story to 3, and constructed chiefly of brick and steel. Some of these buildings are fifteen years old; the newest have been erected five years. The works stand upon the railway, and there is laid in front of them a 6-in. water main with eight hydrants available for use, each being distant some 200 ft. one from the other, necessitating the laying of 3,000 ft. of cotton rubber-lined hese. The plant is devoted to turning out steel tubing. The machinery, all of which was most valuable, was installed in unsprinklered rooms, all the windows from which had been removed, leaving long arid wide open spaces. In such an establishment there was, of course, any amount of oily waste lying about and more or less heaped up, so that the fire that took place in the building might easily have resulted from spontaneous combustion. Sparks from the railway locomotives are also thought by some to have been responsible for the blaze, which started in the shipping room where there was plenty of inflammable matter for it to feed upon. It spread rapidly and in its course met with a great deal of wood that during fifteen years had been thoroughly soaked with oil from the machinery and, wherever possible, been parched and dried up by the sun and furnacheat. No alarm was sounded for some time, and when the fire department arrived on the scene the fire was burning fiercely—so fiercely, in fact, that it looked as if it had been burning for two hours without any attempt having been made to stop it. The department got to work at once on arriving at the scene. But as the flames had on unopposed sweep through the rooms, ard there were no fire-walls to stop them ard everything in the way of inflammable material to feed them, it was a hopeless struggle from the first. The fire was fought altogether with from ten to twelve 4-in., double hydrant streams, twelve being sometimes thrown at one time from hose and ordinary nozzles, averaging t-in. The hose stood the strain well, not one length bursting during the whole time. The water from the hydrants lacked pressure, somewhat, which, of course, handicapped the fire department to a certain extent. The waterworks system is owned by the city, and the pressure at the fire was direct. The costly machinery and patterns were destroyed, and the works were thoroughly gutted with a loss of $1,000,000. The company’ is its own insurer.