East Cambridge, MA Blacksmith Shop Fire, Jun 1900


Blacksmith Shop of the Boston and Maine Road Burned—Locomotive Alarms—Rain Helps the Firemen.

A fierce fire made things somewhat warmer in East Cambridge last night than elsewhere in the vicinity of Boston. The fire was in a blacksmith shop owned by the Boston and Maine Railroad. The damage will not be far from $7000.

Four alarms were sounded for the fire. There were two alarms from box 453, in Charlestown, for the fire was on the very edge of Charlestown. Box 7 was pulled in Cambridge at 6:45 and an alarm was also sent out in Somerville.

The building was a two-story wooden structure with a single store wooden L and immediately adjoining a three-story brick building which caused as a machine shop. It is situated on Miller’s River, being entirely surrounded by water, and between the old Boston and Maine tracks and the new consolidated tracks.

Might Have Been Worse.

The fire started, so it is thought, in a charcoal bin in the wooden building near the brick structure. It was confined to the former, and to that fact is due the comparately{sic} small loss, for had the flames reached the larger building the loss would have been tripled.

A heavy brick wall and two safety doors prevented the fire from spreading to the brick machine shop, and the good work of the departments, and especially of the fireboat, of course contributed largely.

The burned building was occupied by a blacksmith shop and a tin-shop. The one-story end was used for storage, there being a considerable quantity of lumber and castings there. In the blacksmith shop were about 12 fires, but all were supposed to be banked when the shop closed at 5:45. The latter building contained the boiler and engine from which the power for all the buildings was received.

In the Cambridge side of the building were four oil tanks, which exploded during the early stages of the fire. No one was near at the time, hence there was no damage.

The work done in the burned building was entirely on iron, locomotives, etc. The entire building, including the undamaged machine shop, employs about 200 men. The destruction of the boiler will throw them out of work for the time being. Recently the shops have been working on full time.

Two watchmen are employed to look after the place at night. One of them is Mr. Fay. The foreman of the blacksmith shop in George Golthner. In the smaller building was stored a quantity of coal and iron. The former was destroyed, the latter rendered unfit for use.

Locomotives Gave the Alarm.

The alarm for the fire was given by the locomotive several minutes before it was sent out in Cambridge or Charlestown. The constant “Too-toot-toot,” three sharp blows, repeated again and again, filled the air with its resonance.

After the fire had been gotten under control, the elements came to the assistance of the firemen. A heavy thunder storm had been gathering for some time. The lightning played across the sky and was accompanied by an occasional roar of thunder.

Finally it burst out and rendered some assistance in quelling the flames. The firemen, however, were drenched to the skin, and the spectators, of whom there was a large number, were glad to leave the scene and seek refuge elsewhere.

Several lines of hose were stretched across the tracks, thus delaying travel for a short time, but this was soon remedied. Before the fire had been brought under control it succeeded in reaching out hungrily to the draw over the channel of the river and giving the trestle work a good scorching.

Boston Journal, Boston, MA 29 Jun 1900