Rekindles: April 1997

If there was a significant fire or emergency that occurred 100 years ago in your department, or your department's 100th anniversary is coming up, please drop us a line for possible inclusion in "Rekindles" in an upcoming issue. April 1, 1897...


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If there was a significant fire or emergency that occurred 100 years ago in your department, or your department's 100th anniversary is coming up, please drop us a line for possible inclusion in "Rekindles" in an upcoming issue.

April 1, 1897: CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS, PA Fire broke out at about 10:30 A.M. in a Main Street notions store and began to spread quickly. With no fire department yet organized in the small resort town, calls were sent to Meadville, Correy and Union City. The fire companies arrived quickly but flames were leaping from one wooden building to the next. More than 30 business houses and a dozen residences were destroyed in the fire. One man rushed into his burning store to retrieve some valuables and was killed when the flaming structure collapsed.

April 1, 1897: NEW YORK CITY A fire in a wing of the Manhattan State Mental Hospital, on small Wards Island in the East River, left 380 patients temporarily homeless. Damage was estimated at approximately $100,000. Some patients were sent to various locations for temporary housing.

April 8, 1897: KNOXVILLE, TN Flames and dense smoke pushed through the five-story Hotel Knox, trapping many guests. Sixty-mph winds drove the fire into a nearby hardware store, causing a dynamite explosion. Many people were injured by flying glass and bricks. When radiant heat ignited the exposure on the other side, the fire department called for mutual aid. Chattanooga sent an engine on a railroad flatcar that covered the 111 miles in 115 minutes. A woman and her baby were rescued by Knoxville firemen from the blazing hotel after the woman refused to jump into a life net. A cannon was used to blast down the walls of one building to stop the spread of fire. Of the 52 guests asleep at the time of the fire, only 35 were accounted for by the following day.

April 14, 1897: KANSAS CITY, MO Firemen responded to a blaze in the five-story brick building on Walnut Street across the street from the fire department's central station. The Scarritt Block burned fiercely for more than an hour and a half. Firefighters struggled to stop the extension to other large buildings nearby, and won their exhausting battle.

April 15, 1897: NEW ORLEANS The Moresque Building on Camp Street between Poindras and North streets caught fire during the night. The structure was occupied by a furniture company and a crockery business. The original fire building was destroyed and flames soon spread to several other businesses, including the Washington Hotel and the Warren Hotel and Saloon.

April 23, 1897: WHITNEY'S POINT, NY A late-night fire swept through this small town and destroyed more than half of its buildings. The loss was valued at more than $250,000. Among the buildings lost to the flames was the fire engine house.

April 27, 1897: NEWPORT NEWS, VA An early-morning fire on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad piers caused numerous injuries and more than $2 million in damage. The heroic work of firemen stopped the flames from spreading to a large grain elevator. Firefighters and trainmen worked together to pull down the flaming conveyors with a locomotive.

April 29, 1897: PITTSBURGH A photographer's flash pan ignited drapes hung from the ceiling of the dining room in the Monongahela House. The room, decorated for a banquet in honor of President Ulysses Grant, was ablaze in seconds. Quick work extinguished the fire and only the decorations, a painting of Grant and an American flag were destroyed. After 90 minutes of frantic cleaning and redecorating, 324 guests enjoyed the banquet.

CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION: Bernardsville, NJ, Fire Company 1 was founded in April 1897 with 30 men, 12 water buckets and "a long ladder."

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