Ardsley (On-The-Putnam), NY Business Section Fire, Dec 1914

Ardsley NY Downtown View 1930's.jpg

FOUR PERISH IN FIRE, TEN BUILDINGS BURN.

SIRENS SUMMON AID FROM NEARBY TOWNS TO SAVE ARDSLEY-ON-THE-PUTNAM.

MAN GIVES LIFE FOR FAMILY.

REPORT THAT BOMB EXPLOSION STARTED BLAZE -- MISSING BARBER ALSO MAY HAVE BEEN KILLED.

Four lives were lost and two persons injured in a fire which destroyed ten buildings, including the Town Hall, Post Office, and Murden's Hotel, at Ardsley-on-the-Putnam, in Westchester County, one mile from Dobbs Ferry, early yesterday morning.
The fire started in the rear room of an apartment on the first floor of a three-story frame house in Ashford Avenue, which was occupied by MICHAEL IRELLA, a barber. The police, under Capt. THOMAS EATON, started an investigation of a report that several tenants in adjoining buildings were roused from sleep by a loud explosion.
Reports were circulated that the fire was started by a bomb which a tenant was constructing or which had been placed in the house by his enemies. IRELLA was reported missing and a search of the ruins did not reveal his body. The police were led to believe that he was killed either by an explosion or by the flames, and that his body was incinerated.
The four persons known to be dead were members of one family, and lived in the apartment over the barber shop and living rooms or IRELLA.

The Dead.
WILLIAM JOHNSON, an employe of the New York Telephone Company.
MRS. WILLIAM JOHNSON.
WILLIAM JOHNSON, JR., 5 years old.
HELEN JOHNSON, 1 year old.
The Injured.
JOHN SIEBERT, Ressolute Fire Company, Dobbs Ferry; bruises and shock.
JOHN SMITH, member of White Plains Fire Company; probable fracture of skull.

Fire Drives Out Families.
The fire was discovered at 3:15 o'clock by tenants. The building was one of three large, three-story frame structures, owned by O. S. HANRETTY, which stood on the north side of Ashford Avenue in the business district. On the same side of the street, but separated from these buildings, by the narrow Sawmill River, were the Town Hall, a four-story frame and brick building, and Quimby's garage.
Twenty minutes after the fire started, the flames, driven by a gale from the north, gained a foothold on all of these buildings and ten families were driven into the streets, all scantily clad.
The flames jumped across the street and set fire to five other buildings, Murden's Hotel, a three-story frame structure; the Post Office, the Ardsley pharmacy, run by G. Q. JOHNSON, and two two-story frame dwellings. All of these buildings were destroyed with the records in the Town Hall, and the mail, money, and stamps in the Post Office.
JOHNSON was seen on the street after the fire started. The house, in which he lived was then a mass of flames, but despite the efforts of others to stop him, he ran back into the building to try to rescue his wife and children, No one could remember having seen IRELLA after the alarm was given.
The fireman, JOHN SMITH, was injured by being thrown from an automobile fire engine, on the way to the fire. SIEBERT was hurt when a beam in the Town Hall collapsed. He fell with it into the cellar, which was filled with water. HUGHES HAYES, another member of the Resolute Company, rescued him.

Nearby Towns Send Aid.
The engine of the Ardsley fire company was in the basement of the Town Hall and the members were unable to get all of their apparatus out. A call was telephoned to nearby towns for aid, and the Dobbs Ferry companies, the Protection Engine Company, and the River View Manor Company of Hastings responded. Also the Yonkers Department sent two automobile engine companies under Chief MULCAHEY, Irvington sent an automobile engine and a hook and ladder company, Tarrytown the Conqueror and Hope Hose companies, and White Plains a hose company. The Dobbs Ferry companies on the scene were the Resolute Hook and Ladder, the Livingston Hose, and the Ogden Hose. Sirens in all the nearby towns spread the alarm.
All the companies were composed of volunteer firemen except that from Yonkers, and many of those who responded were well to do. Scores of others awakened from sleep by sirens hurried to Ardsley in automobiles.
Women residents of Ardsley, headed by MRS. WILLIAM BLACKIE, pastor of the Methodist Church, formed a relief brigade and took the families driven out by the flames to their homes. On this committee were MRS. WILLIAM LAWRENCE, MRS. W. I. ODELL, and others. They also served coffee to the firemen.
About the only persons in the neighborhood who were not aroused by the fire were the 1,000 inmates of the New York Juvenile Asylum at Chauncey, just across the Sawmill River. Superintendent MORGAN said there had been no excitement and that but few of the boys had known there was a fire in the town.
The loss was estimated by WILLIAM C. LAWRENCE, O. H. QUIMBY, and W. I. ODELL, town trustees, at approximately $75,000, which was covered by insurance. G. Q. JOHNSON, the druggist, was the heaviest loser. The contents of his store were destroyed, and he owned the Town Hall and the Post Office.

The New York Times New York 1914-12-07