Rekindles: March 2001

March 1, 1901: ROCHESTER, NY

March 6, 1901: CAMBRIDGE, MA - One of Harvard's oldest and finest dormitories, Trinity Hall, was gutted by a nighttime fire. An oil lamp accidentally knocked over on the third floor was believed to have started the fire. Fanned by a strong wind, the flames were soon out of control. As firemen arrived, students were busy throwing objects out the windows in a salvage attempt, making entrance into the building rather dangerous. During the height of the firefight, a student sat down at a piano on the first floor and played "Fair Harvard" despite the heavy smoke and water runoff.

March 9, 1901: DETROIT - A three-story brick building on Jefferson Street where engines were manufactured for the Olds Motor Company was gutted by flames apparently fed by gasoline stores. Numerous people were trapped above and several were forced to jump from smoke-filled windows.

March 13, 1901: ORANGE, NJ - Chief James Hodgkinson was seriously injured when he fell through a floor while battling a blaze at 115 Cone St. The chief was moving on the third floor of the building when the charred floorboards gave way beneath him. He was removed from the building by his men and taken home.

March 15, 1901: BOSTON - Flames raced through the seven-story granite home of the Daily Advertiser on newspaper row, Washington Street. The fast-moving fire trapped numerous people on upper floors. Arriving firemen placed long wooden ladders to the upper-story windows, despite great difficulty encountered with overhead wires. At least three people were lost in the fire.

March 21, 1901: NEW YORK CITY - A collapsing roof killed one firemen and injured several others as they battled a fire in the old Sea Beach Railroad Terminal at the foot of 65th Street in Brooklyn. Fireman Christopher Boyne of Engine 142 (which is now Engine 242) died later that evening as a result of injuries he sustained during the collapse. Firemen rescued Boyne and three others trapped beneath the twisted beams.

Time Capsule


A boiler explosion caused the collapse of the Doremus Laundry on West Madison Street. Reports varied widely as to the number of people killed, injured and possibly still trapped in the rubble. After many hours of digging, the fire department suspended operations and placed companies back in service.

Several police officials criticized the firemen for stopping the recovery effort. However, Fire Chief Sweeney stated, "The understanding of the fire department is that all the injured and dead have been recovered from the ruins. The fire which burned there was entirely extinguished…my men did not desert the scene until they were informed that there was nothing else to do."

Compiled by Paul Hashagen