Newark, NJ Fire, Nov 1910
Soon a Raging Furnace.
A strong wind blowing from the north down Orange Street seemed to catch just that part of the building where lay the girls only chance of safety. In a moment it was a raging furnace. On the top floor near the fire escape window no one could live for a moment. The women were driven screaming with terror back into the factory, right across to the other end of the building, 100 feet away. There for a moment the flames had not spread, and there was time for them to rush to the windows and lean out crying for help.
When Engineer Paddock found he could not descend the stairs he turned to the roof. He called to the girls to follow him and a few obeyed. He thought their best chance was to reach a fire escape, and he checked them first from leaping to the ground and guided them toward the iron ladder. He hoped that they would be able to leap down to it and so escape. The few that tried missed and went crashing to the pavement. He at last jumped himself and just managed to catch the top rungs of the ladder.
Across the street Charles R. Devevoise saw from his store, 219 High Street that the women on the lower floor were crowding the fire escape. From the lowest deck of the escape a long iron ladder was supposed to let down in emergencies to the street. It stuck, and the crush of women and the panic in which they were made it impossible to move it. A colored man ran out from a factory office with an ordinary stepfather, and at the perli[sic] of his life rushed up to the blazing building, set the ladder against the wall, and held it here while the firemen ran up it and got the escape in working order.
Escaped Down a Ladder.
Perhaps twenty or thirty women made their escape down the ladder in this way from the second and third stories, and others were also able to leap from the lower windows without any great injuries, but from the top floor the distance was too great for anybody to leap with safety. Still, the women were forced to do it.
Behind the floor was blazing, and smoke and flames filled the whole factory. The crowd that had collected in the streets below yelled to them to hold back. They could see the firemen raising the ladder and they knew it was only a minute or so before more apparatus would arrive. But the flames had already begun to scorch them. Their clothes were aflame, and one after another they jumped to death.
The firemen spread a net beneath the window. Three girls, hand in hand, sprang together and broke through. Others fell on the firemen, and still others come down on their companions who had leaped just before them.
An iron gate was standing ajar in front of the building. Woman after woman, as she fell, was pierced by spikes. One had her side ripped open. Another was pierced through her arm and cheek. A third, hitting the sidewalk squarely, had her legs driven clear through her body.
GRAND JURY SEES NEWARK FIRE RUIN
Investigation of the Disaster Begins to Fix the Responsibility for the Loss of Life.
Records Show That It Was Listed as an Extremely Hazardous Risk---Another Body Found.
The Essex County Grand Jury began an investigation of the Newark fire horror yesterday. After a conference with Chief Justice William S. Gummere of the New Jersey Supreme Court, the jurors, in charge of Foreman Thomas J. D. Smith, went to the scene of the fire and spent several hours inspecting the ruins of the factory in which more than a score of women and girls lost their lives. After the inspection the jurors returned to the Court House to fix, if possible, the responsibility for the disaster.
While the Grand Jury was in session, Dr. Edward Steiner, the Coroner, for the first time in seven years, swore in a Coroner's Jury of six members, which will make an investigation of the fire. The jury was sworn in over the body of CARRIE ROBRECHT of 19 Hampden Street, one of the victims of the fire. The jury consists of C. William Heilman of 22 William Street, George W. Jagle of 30 East Kinney Street, Charles E. Cameron of East Orange, William J. Hughes of 136 Littleton Avenue, Philip Lindeman, a commission merchant, and J. Martin Roll, a contractor, of South Orange. Mr. Heilman was Foreman of the Coroner's Jury that investigated the Clifton Avenue railroad disaster in 1903, which was the last time a Coroner's Jury was drawn in Essex County prior to that of yesterday. All of the jurors are well known citizens of Essex County.
After a conference the jury adjourned for ten days, when it will again meet to take evidence relating to the fire and the resulting loss of life. The responsibility for the fire, if any, will be left to the jury to determine.
Another body was identified yesterday as that of MRS. TERESINA TARTAGLIA, and with its identification the last of the victims that were recovered was claimed. Mrs. Tartaglia was the wife of Frank Tartaglia of Rochester, N. Y., from whom she was separated, and was a sister of Mrs. Mary Damiano, one of those who were injured in escaping from the burning factory. She leaves three small children, and worked in the factory to support them.
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