Rekindles: May 2002

May 2, 1902: BROOKLYN, NY

May 3, 1902: NEW YORK CITY - While responding to a reported fire on 33rd Street, Ladder Company 7 was involved in an accident with a parked horse-drawn wagon. The wreck occurred 100 feet west of the intersection of Third Avenue and 28th Street just as the fire horses were reaching their top speed. The parked wagon's team panicked and backed the wagon directly into the path of the responding rig. The unoccupied wagon and team were lifted off the ground and thrown through a plate glass storefront window, through the floor and into the cellar. Firemen and civilians attempted to free the injured horse, now trapped beneath the heavy wagon. A derrick and slings were later used to remove the injured animal.

May 4, 1902: ST. LOUIS - A severe thunderstorm rolled through the city, leaving a swath of damage in its wake. Lightning strikes caused several fires, including a major blaze that destroyed a foundry in the southern part of the city.

May 6, 1902: NEW MILFORD, CT - A major fire started in a livery stable in the block bordered by Railroad, Bank, Bridge and Main streets. The flames extended quickly and a large firefront began consuming the wood structures in its path. Firemen were soon faced with 40 fiercely burning buildings.

May 10, 1902: ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - People sleeping in a house on the corner of Connecticut and Arctic avenues were roused by the cries of a passerby who noticed the house was on fire. The tenants fled for their lives as the fire apparatus rolled in. Firemen dragged hoselines past the pajama-clad residents as they moved in to extinguish the blaze. A neighbor, overexcited by the possibility of the exposure of her home to the fire, fell down a flight of stairs, breaking her leg.

May 13, 1902: NEW YORK CITY - Firemen faced heavy smoke, deep-seated flames and exploding ammunition as they battled a blaze in a five-story iron building on Duane Street in lower Manhattan. Firemen moving in with hoses stood their ground as stored shells and black powder exploded around them. Four alarms were needed before exhausted and shell-shocked firemen could bring the blaze under control.

May 16, 1902: CHICAGO - The lard refinery of the Armour & Co., located at the corner of 34th Street and Centre Avenue, was destroyed by a fire that was started by an explosion in a lard vat inside the two-month-old building. A large group of spectators began to gather on several viaducts that ran above the fire building. The crowd continued to grow in size as word of the fire spread. One viaduct was especially packed with people when it collapsed, sending scores of people 25 feet to the ground below. Firemen abandoned the fire building and began the task of rescuing the fallen civilians. A call for additional ambulances was sent in as the number of injured rose to approximately 25.

May 17, 1902: HOULTON, ME - A fire that started in a grocery store on the north side of Upper Main Street was quickly out of control and spreading with amazing rapidity. Local firemen were overwhelmed by the fire front and mutual aid calls went out to Woodstock, Presque Isle and Caribou. Soon, every business block from Mechanic Street to East Main Street was ablaze. The flames then spread to 75 residences. Several churches were lost as well.

May 21, 1902: PATERSON, NJ - Flames were discovered in the blacksmith department of the Cooke Locomotive Co. at about 11:45 A.M. The fire soon extended to other parts of the complex, which ran along the Erie Railroad tracks at Madison Street in South Paterson. The entire fire department was called out and was able to save the main building from the advancing fire.

Time Capsule


The Musgiller and Mangles stables at 342 Hoboken Avenue in Jersey City, NJ, were destroyed by an early-morning fire. Twenty-five horses were inside the stable when the fire broke out. Also stabled were two trick ponies and a trick donkey owned by Ben Cotton, a former showman.

During the animal rescue operation, firemen led out every horse with no difficulty at all. The trick donkey, however, proved rather difficult to control. Fireman after fireman attempted to grab hold of the reluctant animal, only to be thrown to the ground. The donkey had been trained to wrestle with a clown as part of a comedy act.

The heat inside the blazing structure became so intense that the donkey finally gave up his act and allowed the firemen to rescue him. The building burned to the ground, but neither horse, nor donkey nor fireman was injured.