New York, NY Pine Street Office Bldg Fire, Jan 1905


Janitor Carries Family Over Bridges from Roof to Roof.


Three Alarms for Pine Street Blaze, Which Smoldered for Hours Before It Was Discovered.

Fire at an early hour yesterday morning wrecked the interior of the six-story office building at 31 and 33 Pine Street. The damage was about $75,000.

The fire was discovered by the janitor, J. B. Casterbine, who, with his wife and two children, lived on the top story of the building. Shortly after 3 o'clock Casterbine was awakened by smoke pouring into his apartments. He aroused his wife and the children, and directed Mrs. Casterbine to climb a ladder leading to the roof of the building.

Casterbine carried one of the children to a safe place on the roof and made a second trip down to get the other child. Then, carrying both children, he escorted his wife across one of the many bridges leading from roof to roof of five and six story buildings in the Wall Street section of the block.

After Casterbine had aroused the janitor of one of the Wall Street buildings into which he and his family descended through a scuttle hole in the roof, he turned in an alarm at Nassau and Pine Streets. By this time smoke was pouring from the windows, and flames were crackling in the basement, which was occupied by a restaurant.

On the arrival of Battalion Chief Kruger a second alarm was turned in, and when Chief Croker came he turned in the third.

The fire had its origin in the basement, according to Chief Croker, and, while preliminary efforts were directed toward the basement and lower floors, streams of water were poured from surrounding roofs and from windows of bordering skyscrapers.

Chief Croker thought that the fire must have been smoldering in the basement for many hours before its discovery. The fire spread through elevator shafts and upward through the main staircase, communicating with every floor as it arose. Flames ate their way into offices, burning away doors and destroying furniture and whole libraries in a remarkably short space of time. It was an hour and a half before the fire was under control.

The building was occupied by Thoms's restaurant in the basement, the Royal Exchange Insurance Company, on the first floor; William T. Miles, a lawyer, and Fremont & Wilson, insurance brokers, on the second floor; Malty & Mack, insurance brokers, on the third floor; Rollin Lindey, insurance broker, fourth floor; Herbert & Alton, Charles Price, and Daniel Scott, attorneys, fifth floor. The top floor was occupied by the janitor.

Valuables and papers and documents not placed in safes of strong boxes were destroyed by fire.

The New York Times, New York, NY 23 Jan 1905