New York, NY Paint Store Fire, May 1897


Found Dead After a Small Fire in a Paint Store.

An unknown man was burned to death in a fire last night at 178 Essex Street. The fire started in the paint store of H. Fenerhigl, in the basement. There was a loud explosion, which aroused everybody in the neighborhood, including the twenty-four families that live in the building. Most of the tenants, finding the stairs and hallways filled with smoke, ran, half dressed, to the roof, from which they were all taken in safety.

When the flames had been extinguished with small loss the firemen found the body of a man on the floor. It was burned so as to be almost on the floor. It was burned so as to be almost unrecognizable. None of the tenants of the building could identify him.
Police Capt. Titus learned that two strange men were seen hanging about the place during the evening. A few minutes before the explosion on man, dressed like a tramp, left the building and walked rapidly away. Although within hearing, he paid no attention to the explosion. It is believed that the two men effected an entrance to the place and started the fire. One either went to sleep or was locked in by his companion and so met his death.

The dead man was about thirty-five years old, was 5 foot 8 inches in height, and weighed about 165 pounds. He was of light complexion, and was apparently a German. He was dressed in dark clothing of poor quality.

New York Times, New York, NY 7 May 1897