Nov. 4, 1904: MARION, MI – A raging fire swept through the entire western portion of this Tuscola County town. The Opera House block, the Post Office block and 10 stores burned as the fire then extended to 23 homes.
Nov. 6, 1904: CHAUNCEY, NY – An early-morning fire broke out, trapping an entire family. The father removed his three children to safety, then returned and rescued his parents. He then made a third trip inside the blazing home to rescue his wife. He apparently found her unconscious and was carrying her down the stairs when the blazing structure collapsed around him. They both perished.
Nov. 12, 1904: CHICAGO – A large five-story commercial building at the northeast corner of Madison Street and Wabash Avenue burned during the early-morning hours. Thick smoke enveloped the Continental Hotel across the street, causing a wild panic among the tenants. Radiant heat cracked the windows and thick billows of smoke cascaded down the hallways as firemen protected the hotel with hoselines and removed the occupants.
Nov. 15, 1904: JERSEY CITY, NJ – An odor of smoke at 3 A.M. prompted the response of the fire department to the Jersey City Stockyards Co. on Sixth Street. Arriving units quickly transmitted second and third alarms. Within a short while, the entire department was at work battling the huge blaze. A small fleet of firefighting tugboats helped firemen halt the spreading flames that threatened large oil storage tanks, a lumber yard, and numerous commercial buildings and large frame tenements.
Nov. 20, 1904: BROOKLYN, NY – Twelve people perished as a smoky early-morning fire raced through the three-story tenement house on Trautman Street in the Williamsburg section. Three alarms were transmitted and helped slow the spread of flames to adjoining structures. All 12 victims were located, overcome by smoke in one rear room.
Nov. 20, 1904: CINCINNATI – A noontime fire that started in a vacant structure on Fourth Street threatened the entire city as wind-driven flames extended from building to building. The entire fire department responded and battled the flames for more than two hours. Firemen made a stand at the nine-story St. Paul’s Building and stopped the westward spread of the blaze.
Nov. 23, 1904: LONG ISLAND CITY, NY – A spectacular fire trapped a fireman and 21 workers on the roof of the blazing Queens County Court House. Thousands of people watched as flames poured from the court house and firemen scrambled to rescue those trapped inside and above. Inside, a hoseline was being operated into the blazing cupola when a section collapsed, injuring the nozzleman, Fireman Lennon of Engine 160 (now 260). His officer dragged him to the roof, where they joined a group of tinsmiths awaiting rescue. A ladder was run up to the cornice and firemen sprinted up to those injured and trapped. Lennon was quickly lowered by rope as the workers were led down the ladder. Lennon succumbed to his injuries five days later.
Paul Hashagen, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a retired FDNY firefighter who was assigned to Rescue Company 1 in Manhattan. He is also an ex-chief of the Freeport, NY, Fire Department. Hashagen is the author of FDNY 1865-2000: Millennium Book, a history of the New York City Fire Department, and other fire service history books.