Newport, RI Sherman Building Fire, Dec 1943


Blaze Believed To Have Started From Flue

Firemen in Hour and a Half Battle in Structure That Houses Daily New.

Fire believed to have started early Monday from a defective exhaust flue in the Sherman building which houses the Daily News, resulted in a stubborn partition blaze leading from the third floor ceiling, and caused firemen an hour and a half's fight before the recall was sounded. Precautionary measures in the composing and press rooms during the fire enabled the Daily News to get out Monday's issue on time.

The fire was discovered before it had gained much of a start. Frank Bobba, News janitor, smelled smoke on the second floor and immediately called the fire department, although he was unable to check the source. A still alarm sounded at 2 A. M., followed three minutes later by Box 323 from Thames street and Washington square. A third call was made at 7:20 for a crew from the Station 2 to provide more manpower to handle hose lines carried to the upper floors.

The flames spread rapidly before water could be poured into the walls where axes and ceiling hooks had to be used to open points of attack. On the third floor of the building, the fire centered under the hall flooring ner{sic} the entrance to the All Navy Club and the Arthur Tifft sign shop, mushrooming toward the near the entrance to the All Navy the roof loft. Sections of the ceiling in Tifft's shop and rooms formerly used by the Gladding Print were torn down.

A partition between the Tifft stock room and the old Gladding office, through which the eight inch sheet metal vent pipe from the melting pots on the first floor, passed had to be almost entirely torn away to put out flames that had gained a strong hold in the timbers. Deputy Chief Abel S. Eldridge directed the attack on the fire.

The Daily News had the greatest loss. Miner damage was caused to Creator's Beauty Parlor, Herman Mines Shoe Store, and Tafft's A. Hartley G. Ward who had stopped on his way to his printing office on Clarke street, directed the placing of tarpaulins over the press and other machinery in the New's composing room.

Firemen remained after the recall to assist in cleaning up debris while carpenters and electricians were at work preparing patches for the walls and checking electrical circuits. Within 30 minutes of the recall, the mechanical departments as well as the editorial rooms and business office were functioning as usual.

The fire was much less serious than that in the same building in February, 1935, which had a good start before discovery.

Newport Mercury And Weekly News, Newport, RI 24 Dec 1943