Providence, RI Daniels Bldg Fire, Feb 1888



PROVIDENCE, R. I., Feb. 19.---The third large fire during the last five days occurred this afternoon on the scene of the disastrous conflagration of September, 1877. At 4:10 o'clock a man in a broker's office on the second floor of the Daniels Building in Custom House-street, a structure which rose on the ashes of the iron-front building which melted away in the great heat of 11 years ago, smelled smoke, and looking about the landing found a closet on the floor all ablaze. Just under the ceiling was a battery of gas meters for the supply of all the tenants on that floor. The connections on these were melted by the fire, and there was a great outrush of gas, which bursting into flame fired the adjoining rooms. The fire spread very quickly. The Protective Department had only time to spread their covers in the first and second stories. Very little in the building was saved. A dense smoke poured from every crack in the central part of the building for three stories of its height.

The main stairway had right-angle turns and was open from the main floor to the roof. A passenger elevator was situated in a part of the central space. The building was filled with smoke and the heat was so intense that the firemen could not work inside. The fire was fought from the front, where it could not be seen. From ladders reaching to the several stories streams were poured in, but seemed to have little effect in checking the raging flames. A second alarm was sounded almost immediately after the first. Half an hour later the flames appeared on the fifth floor on the Custom House street front. A third alarm then summoned all the reserves of the Fire Department. Johnston sent a hose company, which did good service. Pawtucket was asked to hold itself in readiness to render aid.

The fifth floor was occupied by J. A. & R. A. Reid as a printing and publishing house. This firm had four large cylinder presses and four smaller presses, cutting machinery, a bindery, and an extensive plant of book and job type. This floor was burned over, and the roof fell at about 7:30 o'clock. At this time a score of streams were being poured into the building from the roofs and fire escapes of neighboring buildings. It was only by dint of a very stubborn struggle that the flames were confined to this floor. Besides valuable plant, the Messrs. Reid lose plates of their publications: "Picturesque Washington," S. S. Cox's book: "Three Decades of Federal Legislation," the "Life of Burnside," "Portland and Vicinity," and of the illustrations of several other of their books. They has about 3.000 bound books on hand, including 600 of Congressman Cox's. One fireman was suffocated in the third story and was taken home in a carriage. A citizen had a serious fall in attempting to shut off a gas connection. The loss will be more than $200,000.

The Lebanon Mills at Pawtucket are burning; one mill is gone and the other is going. The Riverside Mills' {Olneyville} private alarm has just sounded twice. The Atlantic Mills' boarding house is known to be burning, together with a barn.

The New York Times, New York, NY 20 Feb 1888