Rekindles: October 1999

Oct. 3, 1899: ENDEAVOR, PA

Oct. 4, 1899: NEW YORK CITY - Fire swept through a row of six-story commercial buildings in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan during the night. The fire started in a caramel candy company at 22 Desbrosses St. and soon spread to the floor above a cork manufacturer. The fire spread to several other occupancies. A fire in the same building took the lives of four people on Aug. 11, 1895.

Oct. 13, 1899: BROOKLYN, NY - Shortly after 2 P.M., a fire started in a warehouse at the foot of 42nd Street owned by the Bush Storage Co. Four alarms were sounded to bring all the fire companies in the lower part of the borough to the scene. The fire boats New Yorker, Robert Van Wyck and David Boody were all called. During the initial operations, a wall fell on two firemen who were rescued in good condition by their comrades. It took three hours for the fire to be brought under control. Chief Croker from New York City aided Chief Dale of Brooklyn in commanding operations.

Oct. 14, 1899: LIBERTY, NY - The administration building of the Loomis Sanitarium was destroyed after an oil lamp exploded in the west wing. All 100 inmates of the facility were safely removed. The burned building, which was made of stone, had been a gift of J. Pierpont Morgan.

Oct. 15, 1899: FEEHANVILLE, IL - Flames broke out during vespers in the chapel of St. Mary's Training School. The fire had gained considerable headway before being discovered. Flames jumped from building to building as frantic firemen tried to stop their advance. Seven structures were burning at once, hampering the local department's ability to gain control of the fire. Mutual aid from Des Plaines arrived in time to help save the archbishop's summer home.

Oct. 17, 1899: CHICAGO - One life was lost during an evening fire in a paper box company factory on Green Street. Two hundred people, many of them young girls, were working in the six-story factory when the fire started.

Oct. 20, 1899: ROCKLAND LAKE, NY - A mysterious explosion occurred at the Rockland Lake Trap Rock Co. at noon time. Blasting was done at the works twice a day at noon and just after closing. Eleven men took shelter in a tool house to avoid rock fragments that would be projected by the noon blast. Upon entering the tool house it was realized that the shed was on fire. Only three men had time to escape before the tool house blew up. It is believed that two kegs of black powder were left in the tool house and not returned to the magazine. Four men were killed immediately with four others expected to succumb.

Oct. 30, 1899: BROOKLYN, NY - Four alarms were needed to extinguish a fire in a two-story corrugated iron freight warehouse on North Seventh Street. Firemen were called after workers were unsuccessful attempting to battle the blaze with hand extinguishers. Several firemen were overcome by the dense smoke and had to be pulled from the fire by other firemen. The blaze was fought for two hours.

Time Capsule

Oct. 9, 1922: Oil Plant Fire In Los Angeles

At 5:30 A.M., Los Angeles firemen responded to an alarm at Harriet and Cheney streets in the heart of the oil plant section of the city. Upon arrival they were confronted with a fire in the medium sized oil plant of the Richfield Oil Co. A call for two additional engines was sent in as the fire was proving to be a stubborn one.

The refinery's location posed little problem as far as exposure problems, barring a major explosion. Firemen began operations on burning stills along the west side of the property. Alongside the stills, which were burning fiercely, were a number of railroad tanker cars on a siding. Six of the cars contained oil and two were each filled with 15,000 gallons of gasoline. All of the cars were being directly impinged by the flames and were venting overheated product into the air.

An engineer volunteered to attempt to pull the cars clear of the fire area. With help from the firemen he began the slow and dangerous process. Despite the fact that the siding tracks were warped and that the brakes were all locked, the cars were dragged in flames two at a time to a place of safety where hose streams were played on them to cool them off.

For 10 hours, firemen battled the flames as 29 tanks varying from 1,700 to 25,000 gallons burned. Foamite equipment was supplied by one of the major oil companies and was used in tandem with water lines to cool exposed tanks.

Paul Hashagen

Compiled by Paul Hashagen