New York, NY House Fire Kills Parrot, Jan 1902


Dr. George Henriquez Re-entered Burning House to Fetch It.

Was Cut Off by the Flames, and His Pet Perished Before He Effected His Escape.

Dr. Carlos Henriquez and his two brothers, Dr. George and Richard, formerly residents in the United States of Colombia, were at luncheon yesterday afternoon in their home at the southeast corner of Ninety-eighth Street and West End Avenue, when a heritage in the shape of a Colombian parrot made so much noise that it was ordered up to its cage on the third floor of the house. The parrot was greatly excited and mixed its linguistic accomplishments of Spanish and English so that it could not be told whether it was crying "fuego" or "fun."

The three brothers resumed their conversation about the stirring events in their country and the death of Gen. Alban. Richard, the younger of the brothers, was for an immediate journey to Colombia to join in the fighting. The parrot screamed at the top of its voice from its place of banishment the names of the three sisters of the three brothers, who were on a short visit to Cuba with their aunt, Mrs. Carroll. This changed the conversation, and the three Henriquez brothers began to eagerly discuss the proper plans for their welcome home to-day.

Richard suddenly jumped to his feet and threw a pitcher of water at the register of the hot-air furnace. Flames were pouring from it. The two other brothers hurried to his aid, when they saw that the register in the front room was blazing. The room was soon filled with smoke. With Mary Mullon, the dining-room maid, who had been waiting on them, they hurried to the hallway. Flames were pouring out of the register there. They rushed to the street, where they found Mary Reilly, the cook, turning in the fire alarm on the corner. The brothers went back into the house with the hope of throwing water on the furnace, which they believed the cause of the fire, but were driven back by the dense smoke.

Carlos and Richard, calling on their brother to follow them, escaped by the kitchen door. George hesitated, remembering the pet of his sisters, the old and wise parrot, with which he used to talk in Spanish when he was a little boy in Colombia. Since coining to this country the bird had learned to speak English.

He rushed up stairs to save the old playmate.

It was lying at the bottom of its cage, seemingly suffocated, but managed to feebly say "hello." He grabbed the bird and started down stairs with it, but was cut off by the flames. He then went to the fourth floor, where, with his hair singed, he opened a window. The bird was dead.

George crawled out on a cornice and dropped to an extension. He could not carry the dead bird and left it behind, where the firemen later found it on the window sill on the extension. He was reached by a ladder and met his brothers, who had with difficulty been restrained by firemen from going back into the building after him.

The response of the firemen to the call was immediate, and they saved the adjoining residences from damage or destruction. Two alarms were sent in and Chief Croker was soon present. As the house was known to have contained many valuable, and as it had been reported that men had been chased from the building who had been found ransacking the upper floors, firemen and policemen were left on guard until a search can be made to-day. The Henriquez brothers have traveled all over the world gathering many costly and beautiful curios that were destroyed in the fire.

Most of the valuables, in the shape of silverware, jewels, and money, were on the fourth floor. The damage there was small.

Below everything was destroyed, including a picture by Morrello. and a battle scene by the Cuban artist, Ruiz, which cannot be duplicated, as he is dead.

The Henriquez brothers place their loss at not under $30,000. This does not include the parrot, which could not be purchased at any price. The pictures are estimated to have been worth $8,000 and the rest of the loss is in their collections and old tapestries, heirlooms of the family.

Dr. Carlos Henriquez was at one time the champion wrestler of Columbia College, and Richard has been prominent in the institution as a football player. The house is owned by Henry Newington. There was an insurance on it of $4,000. The damage to it could not be estimated.  

The New York Times, New York, NY 22 Jan 1902