Brooklyn, NY Fire Floods Manhattan with Smoke, Apr 1935


Carried From Trains as
Fumes Fill Tunnel
Beyond Wall St.


Brooklyn Heights Residents
Flee From Hotels and Homes
and Traffic Is Impeded


114 Hurt or Overcome as Huge
Force Battles Smoky Blaze
at Dock Warehouse

A seven-alarm fire in a Brooklyn
Heights waterfront warehouse
although confined to a relatively
small area, wrought havoc yester
day afternoon when acrid billows of
smoke swept through an I.R.T,
subway ventilating system and
hundreds of passengers had to be
carried or helped to the street in
Manhattan and treated by ambulance
doctors. The burning
warehouse was at the foot of Clark
Street, just below Columbia Heights.
In addition to the seven alarms,
two special calls were issued for
additional men as replacements for
firemen who had been hurt or overcome.
The first, late in the day,
drew thirty-three men from Manhattan.
The second, at 11:45 P . M.,
brought ten from Brooklyn stations,
ten from Queens and-twenty
from Manhattan. Altogether the
emergency required nine distinct
It was a unique fire in that the
number of cases of injury at the
scene itself was only a small fraction
of the number of coughracked
smoke victims who stumbled
or were carried out of the Wall
Street station in Manhattan, miles
away. The blaze was not brought
under control till 1:50 o'clock this

Motormen Unable to See Signals

The fumes, which were first noticed
at 12:10 o'clock, penetrated
the Seventh Avenue system as far
as the Pennsylvania Station. They
drove guests from the St. George,
Towers and Margaret Hotels, emptied
homes by the score and so seriously
disrupted subway service
that for a few hours the tunnel between
Wall and Clark Streets was
closed to the public.
When service was shut off on the
line, with trains rerouted via South
Ferry and Bowling Green to and
from Borough Hall, the Clark
Street tunnel was dense with
smoke. Trains had moved slowly,
motormen unable to see their
signals, and each had unloaded
coughing and hysterical passengers,
many carrying children and
some babies in their arms.
The fleeing passengers could not
see their way to the stairways and
policemen and guards had to carry
or lead them to the street. There
many were laid on the sidewalks,
and attended by ambulance surgeons
and nurses and emergency
truck policemen.
There was a feverish rush of pulmotors
and oxygen tanks. Ambulances
clanged in fast round-trips,
moving away at top speed to their
hospitals, unloading and speeding
back to Pine Street or Wall Street
for other loads. Scores, after being
treated on the street or in skyscraper
lobbies, left in taxicabs.

10,000 Persons Watch Flames

Fed by tar-paper and rubber, the
flames and smoke made it so difficult
for firemen crawling toward
the building, at Furman and Clark
Streets, gas masks clutched to
their faces, that even when the
seventh alarm had been sounded,
bringing many pieces of apparatus
from Manhattan, it was evident a
hard job was ahead.
A score of back-draught explosions,
poisonous fumes that felled
firemen in groups, heat that kept
them out of the building and a bursting
hose that knocked many of
them senseless, gave the 10,000
spectators near by something spectacular
to watch, but also gave the
fire and police departments one of
their most troublesome conflagration
problems in years.
Though the fire appeared to be
under control last evening, the peril
never lessened.. The third floor of
the five-story brick structure
crashed shortly after 8 o'clock and
the firemen were forced back for at
that time.

April 21, 1935 edition of The New York Times