Fort Worth, TX Union Station Fire, Feb 1901

Big Fire Yesterday.

The Department Had Hard Work To Do Before Breakfast.

Beautiful Depot Burned

Santa Fe-Central Station Badly Damaged.

Business Is Going On As Usual.

Roof Burned Off of Main Building, But Walls and Side Rooms are intact-Fire Started in Boiler Room and Climbed Wall to Roof. Details of the Catastrophe-Uninjured Portion Rearranged.

The beautiful union station of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe and the Houston and Texas Central railroads on Jones Street, between Fourteenth and Fifteenth, was badly damaged by fire at an early hour yesterday morning. The roof of the main building was entirely destroyed, and while the walls are intact, much of the decorations were injured by the fire, smoke and water. The alarm was given at 5:35, engines in the yards whistling vigorously in addition to the alarm of the department. The fire raged for nearly two hours, but by 7:30 it was entirely extinguished.

The fire originated in the boiler room in the basement of the south end of the building. While it is now positively known it was due to wooden boxing that had been recently placed about the smoke-pipe leading from the furnace to the flue, the pipe probably got so hot as to ignite this boxing and from that the fire spread through the wooden floor up the wall into the roof. At the south end of the building there was more wood work than in any other portion, and was in fact almost the only part where fire could start or burn with much effect.

The fire in the furnace, which is used for heating purposes only, is banked after the 10:15 train at night goes out, and is kept until about 5 o’clock in the morning, when is started up again, and a big fire made to warm up the building for the reception of the passengers that come in on the 6 o’clock train. This was done by Night Watchman W.D. Ferris yesterday morning between 5 and 5:15 o’clock. Mr. Farris then went to the freight office to get the arrival time of the Santa Fe train. While over there, at 5:30 he was told that there was quite a smoke and smell of burning timbers in the depot. He immediately went back and found the boiler room so full of smoke that if was impossible to get in, so he then turned in a fire alarm.

The fire department responded promptly and after quenching the furnace and stopping the flames in the boiler-room supposed the fire to be out. They were still wetting the coal and putting out any possible sparks when it was discovered that the upper ceiling was in flames, which had been transmitted from the boiler room through the ceiling to the upper floor of the café, and which reached the upper ceiling, where it caught between the ceiling and the roof. The ventilators in the end of the building furnished a suction, which at once set fire to the entire roof, and the wind being from the south, the flames swept the entire length of the roof. The space between the ceiling and roof contained a great many wooden girders, beams and braces, so that there was plenty of combustible materials, although the ceiling was stamped steel and the roof of metal.