New York, NY Factory Building Fire, Jan 1911


Flames Swept In Behind Firemen Through an Open Door.

From the third floor windows of the five-story brick factory building at 108-110 Duane Street at the corner of Church Street, flames and smoke suddenly burst at 10:30 o'clock last night and a passing truckman, seeing them, turned in an alarm. As he ran toward the box on the corner, he shouted too, and Deputy Chief Binns, heard his cries from his quarters in Engine 7, adjoining the burning building.

Chief Binns and the men of the engine company were in the street before the alarm had sounded, and the Chief led his men up through the building to the third floor, where a pair of heavy doors giving into the factory rooms barred progress. Within could be heard the roar of the flames, and in response to Binn's shouts the crew of Truck 1, under Capt. John Sullivan, bounded up the stairs, carrying axes and crowbars.

While the hosemen waited the truckmen swung their axes at the double doors. Presently the woodwork gave way and the big doors fell in with a crash. Binns, Sullivan, and Battalion Chief Davin, who had joined them, darted forward with their men. And then there came a sudden rush of flame. The open doorway seemed to act as a flue.

Tongues of flame leaped forth from the opening and the firemen were flung back by it, their eyebrows and hair singed, and were sent headlong down the long flight of stairs to the second floor. From the sidewalk other firemen came to their aid and Chief Davin was carried into the engine house next door badly burned about the face and body. Sullivan's back was sprained by his fall and fireman McCabe appeared to be suffering with internal injuries. Department surgeons hurried to the engine house, and long after the fire was out they were still at work over the injured men.

Binns, who had escaped with a slight singeing, sent in a second alarm, which brought Chief Croker and additional fire apparatus. Capt. John Tighe of Engine 29 led his men up the fire escapes to the third floor and was directing two streams through the windows when two other companies got to work in the rear of the building.

The pressure from the two engines in the back drove the flames out on the men on the fire escape. They dropped flat on the iron grating, but there was not one reached the sidewalk without singed hair and eyebrows.

It was not until nearly midnight that the fire was got under control. Then it had done about $100,000 damage. How it started could not be learned.

The building was occupied on the ground floor by the Merchants' Dining Room, on the second by Smith & Heminway, hardware dealers; on the third, where the fire started, by the Wholesale Typewriter Company, whose offices included the fourth floor also, and on the top floor by the Gathberg Manufacturing Company, metal workers.

The New York Times, New York, NY 12 Jan 1911