VARNISH FACTORY FIRE.
On the evening of Monday, September 10, a fire., probably the result of spontaneous combustion, completely destroyed the varnish plant of Platt & Lambert and the works of the J. F. Blanchard company, manufacturers of fireproof doors and shutters, closely adjoining it on the east, in Borden avenue, Long Island City, between Van Alst avenue and Oliver street, borough of Queens, New York. The fire started in the varnish plant, a two-story brick building, with a one-story extension of about equal area, the whole covering a plot 200 by 70 ft., and filled with turpentine, oils, gums, and finished products. The various tanks of varnish and turpentine caught fire one by one and sent pillars of lire up to a great height. One of these tanks, said to have contained 2,500 gals, of turpentine, blew up with a loud roar and threw to the ground Battalion Chief Clarke and several of the firemen. All escaped, however, without serious injury. The fire quickly spread from the varnish plant to the Blanchard works, which were separated from the burning buildings only by a narrow yard, in which were stored a pile of lumber, besides four freight cars loaded with the same combustible stuff. Notwithstanding the efforts of a locomotive to haul these out, they were destroyed, and the engine itself was forced to beat a retreat. The whole Long Island City fire department had been at once summoned by the night watchman, but was somewhat late in arriving. It found the entire building—60 ft. by 100 ft. in length—ablaze. The water pressure was wholly inadequate, a 4-in. main being the only source of supply—not enough for two engines, to say nothing of fifteen from Brooklyn and four from Manhattan, via the Thirty-fourth street ferry, all summoned by the four alarms that had been turned in. It was, therefore, no source of surprise that, when the 2,500-gal. tank of turpentine already referred to exploded,* the flames at once leaped over the narrow space that separated the Pratt-Lambert works from the Blanchard factory. A special call had brought the lireboats Boody, Hewitt and Low; but the distance proved too great for them to do effective work. They sailed up the Newtown creek and stretched hose across the tracks of the Long Island railway, thereby blocking the trains for some hours. Several engines also took water from the creek, as did some tugs belonging to the Standard Oil company, all of which materially helped the operations of the firemen. These, seeing that it was hopeless to save the two factories, strained every effort to save the big plant of the Columbia Paper Bag company, just behind the burning buildings on Van Alst avenue, and separated from them by hardly too ft. of open space. The building, a three-story brick structure, was not protected with iron shutters, and through the cracking windows great masses of paper could be seen. Several streams were kept washing the walls, until at 8:52 o’clock a force of some twenty or thirty firemen took up positions between the paper bag plant and the lire, and soon after that the blaze was under control. The total loss is estimated at $300,000. It was said that some of the gums used by Pratt & Lambert ranged as high as $t a pound in value. The destruction of this plant entailed by far the greater portion of the loss, although the shutter and factory covered a space of 60 by 180 ft. Only one man was seriously hurt. Lieutenant James Bridges, of Engine 138. while going up Third street on a tender, raised himself too high as it passed under the viaduct and struck the bridge. He was thrown headlong to the pavement and was picked up with a scalp wound or possibly fractured skull, and many bruises and sent to St. John’s hospital, where internal injuries were also feared. The burned varnish factory was erected about a year ago. The Pratt & Lambert corporation had a much larger main establishment on the Long Island City watei front, but it was condemned to make room for the Pennsylvania railway tunnel improvement, and a large factory was built in Buffalo instead, the new Long Island City plant being kept to supply the Eastern trade.