100 Years Ago

GLYNDON, MD: SEPT. 6, 1910 — An oil stove caused a fire in the kitchen of E.J. Heath's residence in this Baltimore County town. The flames spread to the Big Camp Meeting Temperance Tabernacle and the Home of the Aged People's Outing Association. Nine cottages were also destroyed and one was blown up by dynamite to halt the spreading flames. Villagers with buckets assisted the Glyndon Volunteer Fire Department in fighting the flames until they were driven back by the heat. Fire hose streams were ineffective against the large amount of fire found on arrival. The loss was estimated at $20,000.

BRONX, NY: SEPT. 12, 1910 — Patrolling police officers noticed flames coming from the roof of the Van Nest Woodworking Co. plant on Adams Street. Entering the building, they found the owner hustling to remove the firm's books as flames poured from the power room. Members of the first-to-arrive fire company, the Van Ness Volunteers, quickly put their hoses into operation. FDNY units responding from a distance soon reached the scene, but with fire now raging in the plant, a lumber yard, a row of tenements and another large factory, the deputy chief transmitted a third alarm. The fires burned for hours, but were limited in their spread.

HASTINGS, NE: Sept. 25, 1910 — A fire broke out about 5:20 P.M. in the First Presbyterian Church, one of the most beautiful religious structures in the state. Despite the best efforts of the fire department, the house of worship was destroyed. Fireman F.W. Ramey was buried beneath a falling wall. Frantic rescuers discovered he had been killed instantly. The fireman's son, William, was soon to leave for England, where he was to attend Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

CLARKSVILLE, TX: SEPT. 26, 1910 — At 2 o'clock in the afternoon, a fire that originated in the condenser spread rapidly and destroyed the Clarksville light and power plant. The fire company was operating in a distant part of the city at a fire at the residence of W.M. Coffey and could not get to the power plant fire until the plant was fully involved. Firemen then faced serious exposure problems as flames ignited a gin and ice plant operated by the same company. The loss was approximately $40,000 and the whole town was left without light, ice and motor power.

NEW YORK CITY: SEPT. 29, 1910 — The entire block on 122nd Street between St. Nicholas and Manhattan avenues in Harlem was threatened by an overnight fire that began in a five-story stable and quickly spread to the adjoining five-story automobile garage. The fire began about 12:30 A.M. in the St. Nicholas Stables at 231 St. Nicholas Ave. By 1:15 A.M., flames were from the cellar and through the roof of both structures and three alarms had been sent in. Flames then turned the corner and set two five-story tenements ablaze on 122nd Street. All 250 horses in the stable were hurried to safety at the start of the fire and the 25 families living in the doomed dwellings scrambled onto the fire escapes and away from the flames. Two firemen from Engine 35 were injured by a wildly lashing burst fire hose and were treated at the scene.

PAUL HASHAGEN, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a retired FDNY firefighter who was assigned to Rescue 1 in Manhattan. He is also an ex-chief of the Freeport, NY, Fire Department. Hashagen is the author of FDNY: The Bravest, An Illustrated History 1865–2002, the official history of the New York City Fire Department, and other fire service books. His latest novel, Fire of God, is available at dmcfirebooks.com.