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July 1, 1898: PHILADELPHIA - A woman apparently distraught over the loss of a child set fire to her home on Locust Street in West Philadelphia. The kerosene-fed flames soon filled the structure. Arriving firemen were unable to revive two of three people rescued. The woman wandered away in a daze and was struck and killed by a trolley car a few blocks from the fire.
July 1, 1898: NEW YORK CITY - An explosion in the Yale-Downing Building on Warren Street blew the windows out of the adjacent Postal Telegraph Building. Postal workers scrambled to safety as flames belched across the narrow shaftway between the buildings. Firemen arrived moments after the last of the shattered plate-glass windows rained down from the seventh floor. Using standpipe streams the firemen pushed the flames back into the fire building and extinguished the blaze within 30 minutes.
July 2, 1898: BOSTON - A one-story, 85-by-630-foot storage warehouse known as the Atlas Stores caught fire during the night. Fueled by 1,700 bales of wool and large quantities of cotton, rags, furniture and other flammables the structure was soon blazing. As firemen arrived at the waterfront structure, it was apparent that a ship, the U.S.S. Minnesota, moored nearby, was quickly becoming an exposure problem. Two hundred twenty-five sailors joined the Boston firemen in a heroic battle that saved the ship and salvaged much of the warehouse.
July 2, 1898: UNIONTOWN, PA - A devastating fire that began in the basement of J.E. Balsley's Restaurant in the Wilson Building on Main Street was quickly spread by high winds. Two firemen were reportedly on the roof as it collapsed at the height of the blaze. Another fireman from the Collingsville Fire Company was seriously injured when he was struck by a falling ladder.
July 3, 1898: LOUISVILLE, KY - The immense plant of the Globe Refining Co. was destroyed by a late-night fire. Water problems hampered firefighting efforts. The cause of the blaze was believed to be spontaneous combustion.
July 4, 1898: In what was becoming a national epidemic of fires, explosions, injury and death, Americans celebrated their independence. The following are only the highlights: NEW YORK CITY - Firemen extinguished over 40 building fires caused by fireworks, including a skyrocket-initiated three-alarm blaze in a large stable on East 75th Street that killed two horses. ORANGE, NJ - A firecracker started a blaze in the rear of a small grocery store on Nassau Street. Flames spread to a large hat factory and eight homes before firemen could gain control of the fire. HACKENSACK, NJ - Firecrackers set fire to a large barn and the flames soon ignited another nearby barn.
July 5, 1898: DUNSAIR, CA - A fire that started in the Arlington House soon spread into the business district. Two blocks of the town, located in Sisklyou County, were soon blazing. Homes and railroad buildings were also destroyed.
July 5, 1898: ST. LOUIS - A general-alarm fire at the fairgrounds raced through the stable areas while racing was in progress. Firemen arrived to find a number of stables blazing and fire leaping from one structure to the next. A number of valuable horses were destroyed, but more than 150 were cut loose and fled the smoke and flames.
July 6, 1898: CHICAGO - A curious story came to light concerning firemen and flags. Large American flags placed in celebration of Independence Day hampered firemen on two separate occasions. Fires occurring a few days apart on South Jefferson Street and Randolf Street both featured the patriotic obstacles. In both cases the oversized flags hampered firemen placing ladders, but they refused to remove the national colors and worked around them.