Sunday, July 31, 2016

Amanuensis Monday - Fatal Fire in Brooklyn Kills Firemen

The Evening World, New York, NY - 27FEB1920 pg1
This post is a follow up from a Memorial Monday post back in April that listed six fire fighters from Union L94 out of New York. I found the article on that talks about the fire, but only two are listed as having died and one other as expecting to die, but when you look at the list of the injured they are all listed on the memorial's panel which would lead me to believe that they died at some point that year of their injuries. The only person in the list of the injured that survived was Isaac Ludgate.

Even sadder, two of the casualties were brothers.

"Blow-Up at Brooklyn Fire Costs Lives of Firemen; Five Others are Injured

One of Victims Blinded and Is Expected to Die - Blaze Starts in Hold of Boat and Spreads with Great Rapidity.

The Evening World, New York, NY - 27FEB1920 pg1
Two firemen were killed and five injured in a fire and explosion that until early to-day menaced the Nassau works of the Brooklyn Union Gas Company, at Kent Avenue and Rush Street, Brooklyn. The dead are:

Brennan, Thomas, thirty-eight, No. 162 Washington Park, Brooklyn.
Karkle, Michael, thirty-seven, No. 246 Woodbine Street, Brooklyn.

The injured are:

Callmeyer, Frank, twenty-eight, No. 110 Forbell Street, Brooklyn.
Ludgate, Isaac, Acting Battalion Chief, forty-five, No. 50 Newell Street, Brooklyn.
Brown, Samuel, fifty, No. 1329 47th Street, Brooklyn.
Hughes, James, forty-six, No. 69 Clinton Avenue, Brooklyn.
Brennan, James, No. 257 Lexington Avenue, Brooklyn.

James Brennan, brother of Thomas, is expected to die. He is blind and is burned all over the body. He and Chief Ludgate, who is burned about the hands, face and body, but not seriously, are in the Williamsburg Hospital. The others are in Cumberland Street Hospital.

Fire Starts in Boat at Rush Street.

At 8 o'clock last night fire started in the hold of a supply boat at the gas company's pier at the foot of Rush Street. A second alarm brought several companies, and in two hours the flames were under control and all the companies returned to quarters except Engine Company No. 231.

While a crew of fifteen men were wetting down the fire, flames suddenly jumped from the boat to a refuse tank of tar - called 'drippings' - a short distance away on the pier. Firemen rushed toward the tank to extinguish the blaze, but within a few seconds there was an explosion that sent blazing tar and oil in all directions.

Seven of the firemen, many of them blown yards away, disappeared in the heavy smoke and their comrades, some of them themselves burned, formed a rescue squad.

The five men now in the hospital were carried to safety before the bodies of the dead were recovered. The latter were burned almost beyond recognition, and it was more than an hour before it could be learned which of the Brennan brothers had lost his life. Chief Ludgate paid no attention to his injuries until he saw his men had been cared for. Before going to the hospital he telephoned his wife to allay her fears.

Just before the first (sic - fire) started Chief Ludgate had been telling the men in Engine House No. 251 how exactly one year ago last night he had been trapped in a blaze in Walkabout Street and badly burned.

20,000 Gallons of Tar Refuse Blow Up.

A third alarm was sent in after the explosion, but the fire was under control at midnight, having done a damage of $10,000. It is estimated there were about 20,000 gallons of tar refuse in the tank that blew up.

The menace to the big gas storage tanks of the company developed an unidentified hero in an employee of the company. He opened the escape valves of the tanks and the gas flowed off to reservoirs blocks away. In the mean time fireboats had arrived and did good work until the danger was over.

Fire Marshal Trophy has begun an inquiry into the causes of the fire and explosion.

The Evening World, New York, NY - 27FEB1920 pg2
Thomas Brennan had been in the Fire Department nineteen years and has been six years with Engine Company No. 251. He received the departmental medal two years ago for his bravery in rescuing, with Fireman Frank Flannery, Capt. Smith of the company and four men who had been overcome at a hose nozzle on the second floor of the Charles Williams Stores. Arriving late from theatre duty, the two fought their way along their company's hose line until they stumbled over their unconscious comrades. One by one they dragged the five out to the resuscitated.

Brennan leaves a wife, who was too ill to be told of his death, and six children, three boys and three girls, ranging in age from seventeen to twenty-six years.

Michael Karel, who entered the company at the same time Brennan was transferred to it, was decorated with the department medal for entering a burning celluloid factory in Williamsburg last summer and releasing members of the company who were so trapped that in a few minutes all of them would have been burned to death. He leaves a wife and a two-year old daughter."

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Amanuensis Monday - The Firemen Lost in Chicago 1924

The Belvidere Daily Republican,
Belvidere, IL - 19APR1924, pg1
A follow up to a Memorial Monday post in April where it was noted that numerous fire fighters from union L2 in Illinois were lost in a single event. This is the story of their loss.

"Fire Killing Eight Believed Due to Arson

Arrest Three Seeking Plot to Gain $32,000 of Insurance

Chicago's tragical fire followed by swift action that places three men under arrest when police follow trail of recently place insurance policy - firemen crushed when explosion wrecks walls of burning structure

(Special by the United Press.)

Chicago, April 19 - Arson was suspected by police today in the fire which last night gutted a four story building here, killing eight firemen, one civilian, and injuring 20 others, some perhaps fatally.

Search of the ruins continues, police and firemen fearing others, still unaccounted for, may have been trapped when a terrific explosion caused the walls to billow out and then collapse.

The explosion occurred on the second floor while firemen were swarming all over the building.

The dead:

Captain John J. Brennan, 40
Michael Devine, 34.
Lieut. Frank Frosh, 37.
Thomas Kelley, 51.
Edward Kersting, 38.
Francis S. Leavey, 37.
Samuel T. Warren, 40.
Jeremiah Callaghan, 40.
William Derh, 40**

The structure was known as the Curran building, located on Blue Island avenue, on the south side. Fire, apparently insignificant, broke out last evening. Within a few minutes the fire was raging through the entire structure.

Scores of pieces of fire apparatus were brought to the scene.

Blast Shatters Building

Several firemen were on the upper floors, others were on the ground floor, and still others were perched on ladders leaning against the walls and on a water tower rearing its head a few feet from the building when, without a second of warning, a terrific explosion shook the building; the walls bulged out and then caved to the ground.

The roof and upper floors crashed through to the basement, carrying the tortured, living freight. Shrieks of agony pierced the gale-like roar of the flames and earth-shaking crash of falling brick, concrete, steel and timbers.

Heroes to the rescue

Scenes of unsurpassed heroism followed. Policemen and firemen, undaunted by the leaping flames and falling debris, rushed into the roaring furnace. Most of those on the injured list were dragged from the ruins and owe their lives to the prompt and courageous work of the rescuers.

Doctors, internes (sic) and nurses were summoned and the men received first aid in the glare of the fire.

A priest, Father E. A. Jones of the Holy Family church, walked calmly through the excitement, delivering the last sacrament to the dying.

Patrolman Thomas Kelley, Jr., giving assistance wherever needed, came on one little group and broke through to see if the could help and found his father dead, in the center.

Ride Falling Wall

Lieut. John Kaminiski and John Courtney of a fire insurance truck, had a miraculous escape from death. They were on the third floor when the explosion occurred. They rode the falling wall to the street and while rendered unconscious they were not badly hurt. Police were told that owners of the Curran building had aroused the enmity of many persons by planning to rent the upper floors of the structure to negroes. Police also were told that several persons, acting suspiciously, had been seen near the building just before the fire.

Separate investigations are under way by police, the fire marshal and the coroner.
The Belvidere Daily Republican,
Belvidere, IL - 19APR1924, pg2

Three Suspects Arrested

Police today took into custody Samuel Moore, Leo Unell and Samuel Palinski in connection with their investigation of arson.

Moore and Unell, proprietors of the Moore-Unell Novelty company, owners of part of the structure, took out $32,000 fire insurance several days ago, police said.

Palinski, police said, held the policy in lieu of a mortgage on the company's stock. Adolph Friedman, proprietor of another shop in the building, told police that an hour and a half before the fire broke out Moore asked him if all the tenants were out of the building."

Makes for a dramatic story. With the tragedy and heroism of fire fighters is the story of racism (how dare they think to rent to blacks! *gasp*) and greed. Had they not been so greedy these people would have lived longer lives.

** William Derh is not listed on the IAFF memorial and should be the civilian listed in the article. It is possible that James Carroll was also a casualty who isn't listed here. He was listed with the rest of the group on the memorial. He may have died from injuries later, was found later, or was a casualty in a separate fire and just happened to be listed next in the series on the panel.

IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial Panel 1923-1924