New York City, NY Brewery Destroyed, Jan 1873


A few minutes before 7 o'clock last evening, the watchman employed in the Oriental Brewery, situated in East Fifth-fifth street, owned and occupied by HOFFMAN & MERKEL, while going his rounds, discovered a dense volume of smoke issuing from the malt mill on the second floor of the building. On reaching the second floor, he discovered the flames burning along the ceiling immediately above the shafting. There being no water or other appliances for extinguishing fire near at hand, he could do nothing to check the progress of the flames. An alarm was at once given from box No. 565, at the corner of Fifty-sixth street and Third avenue, and was very promptly responded to by the section of the Fire Department doing duty in that district. The flames spread with great rapidity, and the suffocating smoke emitted by the burning malt greatly impeded the efforts of the firemen in bringing water to bear on the burning mass. District Engineer SULLIVAN, who was early at the scene, fearing that the whole building would be destroyed, and involve the surrounding property, ordered a second alarm, which quickly brought several additional steamers and a number of firemen to his aid. Despite the best efforts of the firemen the flames got beyond their control, and mounted from floor to floor with great fierceness, and were soon bursting out of the roof. By persistent effort, however, the firemen succeeded in confining the flames to the building in which they had originated, but did not finally extinguish them until the upper floors were completely gutted and the lower portion of the bulding deluged with water. Great damage was sustained by the water rushing into the open vats contained in the cellar, and which were filled with beer in process of fermentation. A great quantity of beer was ruined in this manner.
The brewery was a double building, three stories in height, built of brick in the most substantial manner. The structure occupies four lots, having a frontage of nearly 100 feet on Fifty-fifth street, numbered Nos. 206, 208, 210 and 212, and is 100 feet deep. The damage to the bulding is estimated at $10,000, and to machinery $10,000. The building and machinery are insured for $41,000, principally in City companies. The loss on stock is estimated at $30,000 and is insured for #10,000 in the Resolute Empire City, Standard, and Merchants Mutual Companies. The beer vats in the cellar are damaged to the extent of $3,000, and are insured for $7,000. The details of the insurance could not be ascertained last night. The building and contents are all owned by HOFFMAN & MERKEL.
The fire is supposed to have been caused by friction of the machinery.

The New York Times New York 1873-01-24