Danbury Evening News, Dec 2, 1890, Fire attempt at the Clark Box Factory

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[Danbury News – Dec 2, 1890]

THE FIRE LAST NIGHT.
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A Most Dastardly Attempt to Burn Clark’s Box Factory.
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At twenty minutes after twelve last night the watchman at Theo. Clark & Co.’s saw a light flash up under the shed at the north end of the factory and then die down. He rushed out of the factory and under the shed but before he arrived at the spot where he had seen the flash there was a fire burning briskly on the side of the building to the height of eight or ten feet.
At the same time the railroad shed at the northeast corner of the factory was discovered to be on fire in several places. The watchman ran to the engine room and pulled the whistle and an instant later the whistles at Beckerle & Co.’s and a locomotive that was attached to a freight train in the New England yard also gave the alarm.
Fire alarm box No. 27, at the corner of Canal and White streets was pulled, and although the alarm was sounded in the fire department and engineers’ houses, the big bell did not respond.
The fire under the shed of the box factory was extinguished by a few men with pails of water before the department arrived, but when the fire companies reached the scene the railway shed was a mass of seething, roaring flames. The firemen set bravely to work and within half an hour had become masters of the situation. The few remaining timbers of the railroad shed had been pulled down and the last spark extinguished.
An investigation led to some startling discoveries. Under the shed of the box factory was found a large quantity of waste such as had been found on many former occasions when incendiarism had been attempted in Danbury. Oil, presumably kerosene, had been used to saturate the waste and had then been thrown against the side of the factory to the height of eight feet.
Under the shed were the large wagons used for delivering boxes. Near them stood the large lattice-work frames which belong to the wagons. These frames had been placed against the side of the building and saturated with oil. In front was a number of hat cases that were arranged so as to hide from view the interior of the shed. it was behind this row of cases that the fiend prepared his combustibles and set fire to them. He then probably went to the railroad shed and saturated and ignited it before the watchman in the factory could get outside.
In the railroad shed was a locomotive belonging to the Housatonic road. The locomotive had been backed in and tender backed against it. The woodwork of both locomotive and tender was completely destroyed. In front of the shed, or round-house, were a number of freight cars that for a time seriously impeded the efforts of the firemen but they were finally rolled out of the way and the firemen were able to pursue their work unmolested.
That Theo. Clark & Co. were not once more obliged to suffer the loss of their large factory is almost a miracle. At no time while the fire was raging in the railroad shed did it seem possible that the box factory could be saved. Its destruction seemed inevitable from the outset, but the firemen were equal to the emergency and the fire was confined to the railroad shed.
The cause of the alarm bell not ringing, as explained by Chief Meyers, was that a piece of the mechanism that strikes the bell became stuck in such a manner as to hold the magnet on a dead center and thus prevent the hammer from descending. It is said to have occurred several times before and is unavoidable. Last night was the first time such a thing has happened during the time Chief Meyers has had charge of the fire alarm system. At 9 o’clock the bell struck all right, indicating that the fire alarm was in good order.
The attempt to burn Clark’s box shop, and probably Bates’ lumber yard adjoining, was one of the most deliberate and atrocious that have yet been made in this city. It is unnecessary to say that the perpetrators of these dastardly crimes have leave behind them no clue which can be followed with any hope of success. How long their acts will remain undiscovered and unpunished remains to be seen but it is sincerely to be hoped that justice will be some day meted out to them in full measure.
[END ARTICLE]

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News, Unknown reporter Danbury Evening. “Danbury Evening News, Dec 2, 1890, Fire attempt at the Clark Box Factory.” WCSU Archives, 16 June 2017. Accessed on the Web: 20 May 2019.

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