Rekindles: April 2002

April 1, 1902: NEWPORT, VA

April 10, 1902: COLUMBUS, GA - A fire broke out in a shop of the Southern Plow Works and spread quickly. The flames spread to a large supply of varnish and oils and was soon throughout the large, square-block-size structure. The fire spread to offices and the large trestle works of the Mobile & Girard Railroad that ran from Front Street to the river, a distance of more than two blocks. From the trestle the flames leaped to rows of commercial buildings, a lumber yard, a woodworking plant and several other woodworking structures. Flames spread to eight homes and a copper shop on the other side of the original fire building before being brought under control.

April 13, 1902: KANSAS CITY, MO - Fire destroyed the storehouse of the Kansas City Hydraulic Pressed Brick Company. Two million high-grade ornamental bricks were damaged to the tune of $100,000. The loss was only partially covered by insurance.

April 16, 1902: PHILADELPHIA - The Protestant Episcopal Church of the Savior on 38th Street was destroyed by a fire that broke out at midnight. Three alarms were transmitted as firemen battled to stop the flames from spreading from the beautiful stone structure. When the smoke cleared, only four walls of the church remained but the fire had been held to the original structure.

April 16, 1902: METAPEDIA, New Brunswick, Canada - Fire raced through the small village that ran next to the Inter-Colonial Railway, just across the Restigouche River in Quebec. Two hotels, the post office, a Catholic chapel and the railroad's snow sheds burned to the ground.

April 17, 1902: BROOKLYN, NY - Firemen battled a fire for more than eight hours in the Bradley plant of the National White Lead Company on Front Street. The factory, composed of a row of four-story brick buildings, was soon filled with flames and four alarms were transmitted. Firemen struggled with the lead-fed flames and were able to spare the company's offices and a public school that adjoined the fire buildings. Final extinguishment was accomplished only after a neck-high accumulation of water was pumped from the cellar, allowing handlines to be moved in.

April 22, 1902: LONDON - Three-hundred firemen manning 40 fire engines worked to fight a fire that started in MacQueen's Hat Factory and extended to three large warehouses on Australian Street. The Metropolitan Railway halted operations as firemen protected the station at Aldersgate Street. Buildings on both sides of New Zealand Street were also involved in the conflagration. Two firemen were injured battling the blaze.

April 23, 1902: PENNSYLVANIA - The state had several major fires in one day. In the Philadelphia suburb of Falls of Schuylkill, the plant of the Sun Match Company was destroyed by a fire of unknown origin. The Meadowbrook farm, also outside Philadelphia, suffered a fire in a huge barn. Ten thoroughbred horses and valuable harnesses were saved as the blaze destroyed the building. In Marienville, Forest County, 150 buildings, a lumber-yard and a large wooded area were consumed by wind-driven flames. The B.B.&K. Railroad station and telephone exchange, the post office, opera house and a church were among the buildings lost.

April 24, 1902: CROGHAN, NY - A fire was discovered in Turck's Hotel at 1 A.M. and spread to the hotel next door. The situation was soon out of control as the flames leaped from building to building. Twenty-one structures were reduced to ashes, including the church, monastery, convent and college of Saint Stephen's Catholic Society.

Time Capsule


A fire of unknown origin started in the vacant Tarlton Hotel located on the beach 100 feet north of Illinois Avenue. A strong wind drove flames through the section bordered by Illinois and South Carolina avenues from the boardwalk back 250 feet toward Pacific Avenue. Arriving fire units were overwhelmed and a call for help was sent to Philadelphia and Camden. Firemen were faced with two solid blocks of wooden structures fully involved with flames. Showers of embers and sparks rained on the unburned sections of the city.

A large group of spectators were watching the blaze from Young's Pier when smoke and flames cut off their exit. Most escaped to the shore, but more than 50 were driven back toward the pier's end. These people were removed by boat. Several firemen, a police officer and a telephone man were injured while battling the flames.

At the height of the blaze the streets were filled with hotel guests fleeing with their belongings and hotel porters carrying fixtures and furniture to safety as firemen pulled hoses from one position to another. A number of thieves descended and "helped" move various items to safety before police and troops moved in to prevent looting.

Paul Hashagen, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is an FDNY firefighter assigned to Rescue Company 1 in Manhattan. He is also an ex-chief of the Freeport, NY, Fire Department. Hashagen is the author of FDNY 1865-2000: Millennium Book, a recently published history of the New York City Fire Department, and other fire service history books.