Washington, DC Washington Inn Fire, Jan 1912
FIRE PANIC IN HOTEL.
Guests Shiver During Blaze at Washington Inn.
BATTALION CHIEF A HERO
Proctor Saves Sick Janitor From Death in Dense Smoke.
Much Excitement Follows Discovery of Flames, but Damage Amounts Only to $1,500---Incendiarism Is Suspected, Supplies All Destroyed---Two Tragedies in the House Within Recent Years.--
F. W. Reynolds, manager of the Washington Inn, 224-226 North Capitol street, was sitting quietly in his office with his wife at 8 o'clock last night when an excited colored man rushed in and told him the hotel was on fire. Twenty minutes later 50 frightened guests were shivering with cold on the sidewalks, after making hurried dashes down firescapes and steps. Chief Charles B Proctor, of the Third battalion, had made himself a hero by his sensational rescue of a bed-ridden janitor. $1,500 worth of damage had been done, and the hotel's pet fox terrier had been smothered to death by smoke.
The colored man who reported the fire had been discharged from the employ of the hotel a month ago, according to Mr. Reynolds, but the manager did not stop to ask him how he discovered the blaze. Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds immediately rushed upstairs and began waking up the hotel guests. There are five floors to the house but they were able to notify everybody within a few minutes.
By the time the guests had thrown on what wraps they could reach in a hurry, smoke was pouring through the hotel. Many were too frightened to attempt to go down the stairways and fled to the fire escapes. It was freezing cold outside, and the guests who did not wait to get their overcoats suffered severely.
Chief Rescues Sick Man.
The house of truck No. 1 is situated just across the street, and it was only a few minutes before the firemen were fighting the flames which were located in the cellar. When Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds returned downstairs after waking their guests, they remembered that James Stewart, fireman, in charge of the furnaces, for several days, and was probably asleep in the cellar.
When Battalion Chief Proctor, who arrived early on the scene, was told of the fireman's danger, he broke in a cellar window and climbed in. At the time the cellar was filled with suffocating smoke, which was pouring out all the windows and through the floor into the hotel above. He was inside several minutes and firemen began preparing to go in after him.
Finally he appeared again at the window and called that he had found Stewart. He passed the man through the window to waiting firemen without, and then staggered forth himself. Stewart was unconscious from the smoke and the battalion chief was grasping for breath.
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