Rekindles: October 1996

Oct. 1, 1896: YONKERS, NY

Oct. 2, 1896: STERLING, CT — Sterling Silk Mills was destroyed by an early-morning fire that was fed by high winds. Volunteer firemen valiantly battled the blaze in the 400-by-150-foot, three-story structure.

Oct. 3, 1896: CAMDEN, NJ — A two-story brick building that housed worsted and woolen yarn spinning companies caught fire during business hours. Firemen were able to contain the fire to the original building but the nature of the contents made for a fast, hot fire.

Oct. 3, 1896: NEW YORK — David J. Morse, alias David Wilson, was arrested by a team of Detroit and New York detectives as he entered a building in lower Manhattan. Morse was the mastermind of an arson-for-profit gang for several years before being caught by police. The gang also ran scams in Chicago, Cincinnati and London.

Oct. 6, 1896: PASADENA, CA — Wildfires raced across the tinder-dry western range of the Sierra Madre Mountains. Valuable timberland, forest areas and ranch properties were destroyed by the blaze.

Oct. 9, 1896: CORNING, IA — A fire that started in a grain elevator was soon burning out of control. Two entire blocks of the town were destroyed and one person was killed.

Oct. 12, 1896: GREAT BARRINGTON, MA — A fire that would be called the most destructive in the town’s history began at 10 P.M. in a tenement house and, pushed by gale-force winds, soon spread to other structures. Lost were the hotel, livery stables and a large block of brick buildings.

Oct. 25, 1896: LAWRENCE, MA — Fire broke out in the dry room of the Washington Mills and spread to the main mill and other mill buildings. One fireman was overcome by smoke and another suffered a leg injury. About 4,500 people were left without jobs.

Oct. 26, 1896: CHICAGO — In less than an hour, a blaze raced through a section called Goose Island. Several grain elevators and dwellings were lost. Twenty-five engines were called and firemen were hard pressed to stop the flames. One group of men held onto a hoseline as a roof collapsed beneath them. They were rescued by other firemen. A valiant stand halted the flames as they closed in on the Armor grain elevator (the largest in the world) and an immense malt warehouse and dock area. Thousands of spectators cheered on the firemen as they faced radiant heat that scorched buildings a block away.


The New Jersey State Firemen’s Association held its centennial convention in September 1996 … Atwood Hose Fire Company in Wauregan, CT, marks its 100th anniversary on Oct. 8, 1996. The company was formed by James A. Atwood to protect his father’s textile mill and a village built for mill workers. The first pieces of apparatus were a chemical cart and a hose cart … Protective Hose Company of Lancaster, NY, was organized on Oct. 29, 1896. The 17 charter members started with a used hose cart. The company’s founding was prompted by arson a week earlier in a block-long soapbox factory. Firefighters found the buildings engulfed. The fire leaped Central Avenue and burned three buildings to the ground, gutted another and damaged four houses. Engine 12 of the Buffalo Fire Department was called to help out. Citizens immediately saw the need to establish an additional fire company.


The Memphis, TN, Division Of Fire Services is celebrating 150 years of organized service … Gazelle Hose Company 1 of the Sag Harbor, NY, Fire Department celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. The company was organized a year after a major fire struck the town.