Watchman Killed in Los Angeles Fire
A fire which was at first reported to be of incendiary origin but which, according to Chief R. J. Scott, of the fire department, probably originated from natural causes badly damaged the warehouse of Barker & Brothers, dealers in house furnishings, in Hewitt Street, Los Angeles, Cal. The fire, which started at 8:30 P. M., resulted in the death of the watchman, it at first being reported that he was murdered, but after the autopsy it was found that the wounds on his head were caused after death, probably by the axes or pike poles of the firemen who were turning over a large pile of rugs under which the watchman was found buried. It was the opinion of Chief Scott that he was overcome by smoke and his exertions to escape and his death was due to the fact that he was past fifty years of age. The building, which was comparatively new, having been built only a year, was four stories in height and was constructed of concrete and frame, occupying about 24,000 square feet in area. There were 75 men at the fire and the apparatus consisted of six Seagrave and one American-LaFrance pumpers, two city service trucks and a squad wagon. Nine 4 and 6-inch hydrants were available, spaced about 300 feet apart, with a pressure of 40 pounds at the hydrant. Thirteen engine steams were thrown, with nozzles of 1 1/4 inches, and about 8,000 feet of hose were laid.
The burning rugs on the fourth floor made a dense smoke and great care bad to be exercised by firemen in watching vertical openings in stairways, of which there were four, and elevators, three, so as to keep the fire from dropping through and igniting the contents on the lower floors. On these floors there were large quantities of loose cotton for the manufacture of mattresses, etc., cane furniture loosely piled and other inflammable materials.
Two streams from the standpipes on the west side of building and also two streams on the east side were thrown to the level of the fourth floor and the remaining streams were utilized in the building, attacking through the elevator shafts and stair openings. After the fire had been extinguished on the fourth floor, a second small fire was discovered on the third in the cotton picking room. This was at first thought to indicate arson, but, according to Chief Scott, as it occurred directly under a window of the fourth floor through which the flames were pouring out, it was probable that this second fire was caused by burning particles falling from this upper window, smouldering and then bursting into flame after the other fire had been put out. The loss was roughly estimated at $150,000.