Foremen from the Phoenix Fire Company and Mechanic Fire Company in Charleston, SC, pose for a Daguerreotype, circa 1855.
Photo credit: Photo from Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division/LC-USZ6-2211 DLC
NEW YORK CITY: MARCH 3, 1913 – Four alarms were transmitted for a blazing loft building on West 53rd Street. The fire started around 11 P.M. in a cabinetmaker’s shop on the fifth floor. Fed by strong winds and large amounts of stored wood and fabrics, the fire spread upward quickly. The sudden cold spell chilling the city also affected operations with frozen hydrants being a major issue on arrival. Flaming brands and embers showered neighboring buildings and kept firemen busy protecting them as well as battling the central blaze. The aggressive interior attack had to be suspended and a defensive operation begun. Four water towers poured thousands of gallons of water onto the flames to the delight of a huge crowd of spectators. The fire eventually ate all the way down to the lower floors of the building, leaving only charred, ice-shrouded remains.
GLEN COVE, NY: MARCH 9, 1913 – Tramps apparently set fire to an expensive summer home on Red Spring Lane by the careless discarding of a match or cigarette into a pile of papers. A local hotel owner saw the glow of the fire during the early-morning hours and called the fire department. The building was fully involved as the volunteer fire truck pulled up.
BROOKLYN, NY: MARCH 9, 1913 – A fire broke out on the second floor of a home at 32 Linden St. near the bedroom of a sleeping 6-month old boy. The family was at church and the child’s nurse was working in the basement when smoke began to fill the home. Seeing smoke in a dumbwaiter shaft the nurse, Amelia Franze, went to the first floor, then dashed up the blazing stairs. She pulled the boy from his crib and wrapped him in blankets before descending the burning stairs. She staggered out to the street, her hair burned off, her skin scorched and she fainted just as the first fire engine pulled up. The child was unharmed.
VERVINS, FRANCE: MARCH 10, 1913 – Ten people were killed and 45 others were seriously injured after a panic caused by the explosion of a motion picture apparatus in a small upstairs theater during the evening hours. There were 120 people in the theater, mostly children, when the explosion and fire occurred. In the audience’s rush to get out, the stairways became choked, forcing several people to jump from windows. The fire brigade extinguished the fire quickly.
NIAGARA FALLS, NY: MARCH 14, 1913 – A morning fire destroyed the Alumni Building at Niagara University, causing a $100,000 loss. The new, three-story structure containing college society clubrooms and chemical laboratories, was recently erected to replace one that burned in June 1909.
CARROLL, IA: MARCH 20, 1913 – Flames broke out in the basement of J.A. Strohm & Co. department store located inside the Masonic Temple. Firemen battled the blaze for hours and desperately fought to keep it from spreading to the adjoining Brumer Building. The destroyed temple building also housed the telephone exchange and the Masonic lodge. Also threatened were the post office, the German Bank of Carroll County, the Carroll Herald and several other large companies.
LONDON, ENGLAND: MARCH 20, 1913 – Trevethan, the unoccupied mansion of Lady White, was set fire by suffragettes during the morning hours. Signs saying “Stop torturing our comrades in prison” and “Votes for women” were found on the grounds. Police say two women bicyclists were seen riding from the house just before the fire started. They also said the house was probably chosen because of the notoriety of the owner and the fact that no one was inside.
TERRE HAUTE, IN: MARCH 24, 1913 – A tornado tore through the town during the night, killing 19 people and injuring 250. Two hundred and seventy-five homes were destroyed and more than $1 million worth of property was lost. Responding firemen were faced with collapsed buildings, building fires and numerous people trapped and injured. Hundreds of homeless wandered the streets seeking help. The heavy rainfall occurring right after the storm made the rescue work and the suffering of the injured greater, but it helped extinguish and stop the spread of fire.
PORTSMOUTH, OH: MARCH 29, 1913 – For more than a week, the city was flooded as water poured over concrete flood walls and earthwork embankments. More than eight feet of water filled the streets when a series of fires ignited in separate sections of the city. Firemen had the difficult, if not impossible job of fighting fires in these deep waters.