FDNY Engine 47 responds at top speed along Broadway on the Upper West Side of Manhattan circa 1910.
Photo credit: Photo from Paul Hashagen Collection
WEST POINT, NY: AUG. 1, 1914 – Flames destroyed a section of the stables at the U.S. Military Academy during the night. Cadets raced to the scene and began firefighting efforts. They protected the remaining section of stables and released the 118 artillery horses housed there. Unfortunately, the horses stampeded and caused many problems. Some ran down the railroad tracks as others fell over an embankment. One jumped through an occupied car, injuring two women inside.
LAKE ORANGE, NY: AUG. 4, 1914 – Boy Scouts attached to the First Naval Battalion enjoying an evening around the camp fire noticed a glow in the sky. They formed up and ran toward the glow, finding two cottages burning and fire threatening several other cottages nearby. The scouts and the men of the cottage colony organized a bucket brigade that covered a quarter-mile to the closest water source, a lake. Their efforts paid off and the fire was confined to the two original structures. Their actions were lauded by the admiral commanding the Naval Division of the United States Boy Scouts and commendations were issued.
JOPLIN, MO: AUG. 5, 1914 – Thirty-nine people were killed when two trains, both running at high speed, collided 10 miles south of town. One train, known as a motor car, was fueled by a gasoline reservoir. Upon colliding, the motor car ended up suspended over the locomotive. Many people were pinned in the wreckage, which quickly ignited in flames that spread fueled by the leaking gasoline. The fire began to burn everything in its path. One passenger, W.M. Drury of Webb City, MO, freed himself and then extricated his entangled family. One by one, with flames closing in, he pulled his wife and three children from the blazing train. Despite his own injuries, and with his clothes on fire, he re-entered the wreckage and rescued three other people from sure death. Another passenger forced open a window and climbed inside the twisted debris. He rescued nine people.
LAVALETTE, NJ: AUG. 8, 1914 – A gasoline explosion in an automobile garage ignited a fire that destroyed both the garage and the adjoining Leslie Hotel. Firemen arrived and began battling the quick-moving fire. All the guests escaped uninjured, but two automobiles inside the garage were destroyed.
WALPOLE, MA: AUG. 9, 1914 – The paper manufacturing plant of F.W. Bird & Sons was threatened as flames caused by spontaneous combustion ignited a fire that leaped from building to building. Firemen battled the spreading flames and at one point were prepared to dynamite one of the mills to make a fire break. This was not necessary as mutual aid arrived in time and the battle was won.
NEW YORK CITY: AUG. 11, 1914 – An extremely heavy electrical storm rolled across the city, leaving death and destruction in its wake. A man sailing a boat just off-Staten Island was killed instantly by a bolt of lightning. Minutes later in Brooklyn, lightning stopped a robbery. Just as robbers were opening a cash register at gunpoint, a lightning bolt shattered the store’s front window and the panicked robbers fled. Violent downpours caused a cave-in at a subway excavation in the Bronx, trapping several workers. Then, while answering an alarm in the heavy rain, one of the horses of Engine Company 41 slipped on the wet pavement and panicked. The frightened animal bolted and ran, sending the engine careening wildly down the street. Just before the engine smashed into an elevated subway pillar, the driver and officer jumped clear. Two other people were struck by lightning in the Bronx, including a cameraman working on a film being made by the Vitagraph Co.
MINEOLA, NY: AUG. 28, 1914 – One of the oldest buildings on Long Island, the Post Homestead, was destroyed by a fire during the night. The building stood within feet of the Long Island Rail Road tracks and a spark from a passing engine is believed to have ignited the blaze. The house was built about 260 years earlier.
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ: AUG. 30, 1914 – Flames were seen leaping from the roof of the Hotel Ilesworth at Virginia Avenue and the Boardwalk at about 9 P.M. As the fire department was being called, bellboys ran through the large hotel, alerting guests. Several bellboys carried out women and children. Dense smoke filled the dance hall on the Garden Pier, where more than 1,000 people were watching motion pictures. A panic resulted and many people were trampled as they ran for the exits. Crowds in the streets and on the boardwalk became so overwhelming that firemen could barely operate. Despite the obstacles, firemen rescued two disabled women over ladders to the cheers of 50,000 people jamming the boardwalk.