Hartford, CT Park Central Hotel Explosion and Fire, Feb 1889


A Boiler Explosion Entirely Wrecks the Park Central Hotel at Hartford.

Injured Victims Roasted by Fire Breaking Out in the Debris.

Sixteen Bodies Found and Many persons Missing--Awful Scenes.


HARTFORD, Conn., Feb. 18.---Just before dawn this morning a hotel with its sleeping people was shattered by a force not yet ascertained, and, straightway, in the darkness and ruin, men and women and children were being crushed and maimed and burned by flames. It was at the hour when the twilight of the coming day had worn away the night a bit, and while the city slept and slept, that the still buildings were shaken as if by earthquake, and the silent streets were startled by a sullen booming, as though of a monster explosion. Upon the moment persons in the section of the city near the capitol and the Union Depot were further startled by the sound of crashing walls and falling timbers and the screams of women and by men's hoarse shouts from the vicinity of High and Allyn streets, which had been the site of the Park Central Hotel, but which had practically disappeared. Those who hurried to the spot found upon the site of the hotel a huge pile of stone and brick and splintered timbers, from which white clouds of steam rose up in the morning twilight, streaked and blackened by wreaths of smoke that rapidly grew darker and blacker and more dense. Then


leaped here and there from out the ruin, and grew bolder and more strong, until the ruin was a roaring heap---a grate, where solid masonry held the fuel in.

The stupefied beholders had then begun to move, and the clangor of fire bells bore down upon the scene, while from untold sources came a throng that stayed not idly curious by. There were cries and moans, and then wild screams from out the ruin, that made men's faces blanch and their arms strong with helpful impulse. The streams of water played upon the flames was carried up in steam that smothered all vision of the ruins, but the daylight grew apace, and soon the helpers at the ruin could see back behind the debris that the annex to the building, which had housed the help of the hostelry, had been spared. A portion of the tier of rooms at the rear of the main budding had remained standing, but the partitions had been torn away, and the rooms were open air. The floors of many of them partly giving away had tumbled out the occupants and furniture upon the confused heap below.

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