News Times, July 8, 1889

Dublin Core

Description

Newspaper article detailing four fires attributed to the firebug. The small article following the first discusses issues regarding the housing and use of the city's first fire engine ("steamer").

Abstract

Detailed accounts of fires occuring at the ruins of the Canal street fires of the preceding week, the barn belonging to G. Chichester, a barn belonging to M. Regan, and an obvious attempt to set the barn of D.G. Penfield on fire.
An issue regarding the housing and usage of the city's steamer engine is discussed in detail.

Date

1889

Document Item Type Metadata

Text

[THE EVENING NEWS, Monday, July 8, 1889]

FOUR INCENDIARY FIRES.
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THE FIRE BUG AT WORK [A]gain SATURDAY NIGHT.
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Fires on White, Foster and Rose Streets
Kerosene Oil and Waste Used.

Three alarms of fire kept the fire department busy Saturday night and Sunday morning.
There were four actual fires, the department being called out to three, and the fourth being extinguished without the sounding of the alarm.
Two of the four are positively known to have been of incendiary origin, and the third started under very suspicious circumstances. The other was simply a breaking out of the Canal street fire of Saturday morning.
Many of the firemen having been out nearly all of the preceding night, and at work on the ruins far into the day, were thoroughly exhausted, and were hoping for a good night’s rest. What little they obtained, however, was in little naps between alarms, and the alarm was kept busy the greater part of the night.

ON CANAL STREET.
Just before the 9 o’clock bell sounded a few members of Kohanza hose company ran around the corner of Ives street and into White, dragging their carriage. There had been no alarm, and it was supposed that they had been ordered out to watch the Canal street ruins. They had but turned the corner when the hook and ladder turned the corner, the horses on a run. The firemen turned into Canal street. The lumber in the partially destroyed shed at the left of Clark’s factory was blazing briskly, and the hose company spent an hour wetting it down.
Fully ten minutes after the hook and ladder company and hose No. 2 passed through White street, the alarm sounded twenty-seven. This brought a rush of people to White street, but the flames were already extinguished.
It seems that on the discovery of the fire, Officer Clark, of the fire police attempted to send in the alarm from box 27. He pulled the box several times, but not hearing the bell strike, ran down to box 25 at the Wooster House. Here he met with no better success. Then he went to the battery room at the City hHall, and from there the alarm was sounded.

AT CHICHESTER’S BARN.
When the Washington express arrived at Danbury last night, Brakeman George Madison, of Brewster, left the train to await the arrival of a freight on which he could proceed to Brewster, the express not stopping at that station. Shortly after 1 o’clock he started to walk down through the yard to board the train, which was nearly due. Passing the freight house he noticed a peculiar light in a small window in the large barn of George Chichester, standing up on the hill to the left of the tracks. He could see something dropping down through the tracks. He could see something dropping down through the cracks in the side of the barn. It appeared to be blazing oil.
Running back to the station he told Operator Delaney and Expressman Andrews, who were awaiting the arrival of the east bound express. Mr. Delaney ran across to fire alarm box 27 and turned in an alarm, while Madison and Andrews went back to the barn. Crawling in through an open window they found one corner of the barn in flames. A few pails of water sufficed to extinguish the fire, and when the firemen arrived a few minutes after, their services were not required.
There was but little response to the alarm, many supposing it to be a breaking out of the Canal street fire a third time.
When daylight came and an investigation of the fire was made it was found [to] have been a most deliberate piece of incendiarism. The barn is one of the largest buildings of its kind in the city, and stands in rather an unfrequented place. At the rear overlooking the railway yard is a small, square opening, used principally for the purpose of throwing out the refuse from the stalls.
Crawling through this opening one finds himself in a large space at the rear of a row of stalls. In these stalls, at the time of the fire, were three horses. Up in the right hand corner, close to the rear of the stalls, two beams form a sort of “V” shaped crevice. All around this the wood work was blackened and charred. A peculiar fact is that the fire started several feet above the floor, and just where it would, after a few minutes, reach the hay in the mow above.
A fact which seems most fiendish is that the fire was started in such a position that, had it once gained a good headway, it would have been impossible to remove the horses.

MICHAEL RAGAN’S BARN.
At 3 o’clock Sunday morning the residents of Foster and Boughton streets were awakened by a cry of fire, and in a few moments the cry passed up Main street and was taken up by the policemen on the street. The firemen were tired out, and it was feared that they would be slow in responding to a regular alarm. Hardly had the cry been taken up when a bright flame shot up in the direction of Wooster street.
Officer Sullivan ran to box 36, at the Turner House, and gave the alarm. The firemen were on the scene almost immediately, and found a small barn belonging to Michael Regan, at the rear of his residence on Foster street, to be in flames. The building was so far gone that the most the firemen could do was to pull down the walls and drown out the fire in the burning hay.
The fire was first discovered by a family living in Mr. Regan’s house.
Chief Boughton and Officer Berry, of the fire police, were among the first at the barn. Mr. Berry made an attempt to burst open the door in order to rescue a valuable horse, which was inside, but when he succeeded in doing so, the interior of the place was a mass of flames, and it would have been an impossibility even to have attempted to enter. No sound was heard from the horse after the door was opened, and it is probable that it had already been suffocated.
As the door fell in Mr. Berry caught a glimpse of an open window at the rear of the barn. This was the only thing about the barn that would give a clue as to the origin of the fire, and is in itself nothing, but it corresponds with facts noted at the other fires of a similar nature.

AT PENFIELD’S BARN.
As Watchman Gray and the night engineer were leaving Tweedy’s factory about 6 o’clock Sunday morning, smoke was discovered issuing from a large barn in the lot just west of the large store houses of D.G. Penfield, on Rose street. Running across to the building the large sliding doors were opened and a dense smoke poured out. The jumper belonging to the factory was quickly brought into use and a stream directed against the fire in the building. It was extinguished without much difficulty.
An examination revealed a clean attempt at incendiarism. Saturday night several blankets were left neatly folded on a large packing box, standing just back of a row of stalls. The blankets being unfolded and spread over the box, the interior of which had evidently been saturated with oil. A large broom had been placed in the box, and from appearances first saturated with oil and then lighted and applied as a torch.
Everything seemed to be so arranged as to give the box a good start before the light should be seen from the outside. The fire had evidently smouldered several hours, and was just making headway when discovered, as the ceiling above was blackened by smoke.
In the loft above the box was a quantity of hay and inflammable stuff, and in the stalls were two horses in such a position that rescue would have been difficult after the fire once obtained headway.
No alarm was sounded for this fire.

THE EXCITEMENT.
The city was thoroughly excited yesterday morning. But few people had been aware that there had been more than two fires, and, as various rumors were started, they gained such magnitude that a stranger would have supposed that half the buildings in the place had been fired. The fires were the topic of the day’s conversation, but little else was talked about.
The police made unusual efforts Saturday night, and every suspicious character was closely watched, but no arrests were made. A number of clues were obtained, but are being kept secret. They have thus far amounted to nothing.

The Fire Steamer’s New Home.
When the special meeting of the common council adjourned Saturday afternoon, the members of the fire committee immediately set about to house the fire engine in the center of the city, as ordered by the common council. The committee instructed Driver Lewis to take it from the Humane Hose house on Boughton street to the house in the rear of the Kohanza house. At that time Chief Meyers was on Canal street and knew nothing of the transaction.
Arriving at Ives street he went to the rear of the Kohanza house and saw the engine for the first time, the driver trying to back into the house prepared for it some time ago. On the ground that the place was too small for the engine he ordered it back to its old quarters. The fire committee interfered and stated that they had assumed charge and that the driver was acting under the committee’s orders. The engine could not get into the place, it being, as Chief Meyers said, too small. The matter was definitely settled by placing it in the Kohanza hose house, and the probabilities are that it will remain there. The question that was raised against placing it there in the first place was the high grade up to the house, and the danger of taking the engine out of the house on a run. The matter was settled to everybody’s satisfaction by Driver Lewis, who took the engine out without any apparent inconvenience. The fire committee and Commissioner of Public Works Olmstead held a short consultation as regards to the cost of raising the street to its proper level, thus making it easier for the steamer to get in and out. Some of the property owners asked then and there that the street be leveled to its proper grade. That clinched the matter. A hasty calculation by Commissioner Olmstead showed that $200 would do it as far as the city property was concerned. On this showing the fire committee concluded that the placing of the engine on Ives street and raising the grade of the street was undoubtedly the best disposition they could do in the matter, and so ordered Commissioner Olmstead to raise the grade of the street and make the necessary change in the paving leading to the Kohanza hose house. With this understanding the matter was left in the hands of Mr. Olmstead, it being generally agreed that the steamer will be housed permanently there.
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THE STEAMER AT ALL FIRES.
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The Necessity of It Felt at Every Call.
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Danbury is verging into a period of its history where some of its old methods must be dropped and new ones taken up. This is felt to be imperative in many things, but none more so than in the working of the fire department. The general interest that the citizens take in this matter was forcibly illustrated in the late city meeting, when nearly all the department estimates were cut down but that under the head of fire department. It will be remembered, too, that when the fire department estimates were under discussion, it was agreed and advocated, even by those most anxious for retrenchment, that this department be allowed what it asked for on the ground that it ranked first in importance in the preservation of city property and should not be curtailed.
Since the introduction and purchase of a steamer for the fire department of this city the custom has been to take it to a fire, only, when in the opinion of the chief, it is deemed necessary. When it is understood that there are only on team of horses for the department, and they are used on the truck, the reason why the steamer is not first to a fire is clear. The wisdom of leaving the steamer to the last moment may be seriously questioned. It is only a matter of time when Danbury will have a team for the engine, and when said engine will be required to lead the department at a fire. What can be gained by a delay on a matter of such importance is hard to guess at. What to do with the horses when not in use can be easily settled when the team is Danbury’s property.
[END ARTICLES]

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“News Times, July 8, 1889.” WCSU Archives, 9 July 2019. Accessed on the Web: 23 Sep. 2019.

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