Minneapolis, MN Fire Destroys West Hotel, Jan 1906

West Hotel Pre Blaze Ambulance Loading Victims Of Fire





(By Associated Press.)
Minneapolis, Minn., Jan. 10. -- Eight persons are dead from suffocation or from leaping from the building, a score or more of people are seriously injured by having their hands cut and gashed from smashing in windows, a magnificent property subjected to the ravages of fire, smoke and water, is the epitome of disaster which befell the West Hotel today.

The Dead.
The dead are:
Captain JOHN BERWIN, of truck No. 1, who fell from the fifth to the fourth floor and thence to the sidewalk while attempting to save MRS. BARLOWS life.
W. G. NICHOLS, Minneapolis.
THOMAS CENTERVILLE, Springfield, Mass.
J. E. WOLFE, Northwest agent of Sperry & Alexander company of New York.
CLINTON B. LAMME, traveling man, New York.
J. B. PEISNIGER, traveling man, New York, who jumped from a seventh story window.

The Injured.
The injured persons are:
N. S. AMSDEL, Minneapolis.
GERDAN G. SAPP, Chicago.
BENJ. W. SWISKY, Chicago, who is very badly hurt and still unconscious and will die.
MRS. D. B. BARLOW, Los Angeles, injured by falling while being rescued by Captain BERWIN. Condition most critical.
T. K. CREIGHTON, traveling man, New York.
JOHN FILLMORE, traveling man, New York.
M. F. KING, traveling man, Detroit.
ERNEST R. ECKELT, and JUDSON L. FIELD, Chicago, badly burned by fighting their way to fire escapes.
ALICE LARSON, maid in hotel, jumped from fifth floor to an adjoining roof. Badly injured.

Fire Was Insignificant.
The fire was confined to the elevator shaft and top floor of the building but the people went wild and the flames hurried them into halls and out upon window ledges in frantic attempts to save themselves. There was really no help for several who lost their lives. The wood, in the elevator shaft, burned like tinder and a sheet of flames, twenty feet wide, mounted to the seventh floor, frightening the guests out of their senses and minds and induced a panic which struck terror to the stoutest of hearts.

Fight For Lives.
It was the huge volume of smoke which struck the guests the moment they opened the door, their rooms were filled with smoke and the panic stricken guests were compelled to beat out the windows to prevent instant suffocation. This condition drove many to actions that brought injury and death that would not have happened had calm judgement been used.

Guests In A Panic.
The blaze started in an unknown manner in the packing room on the first floor. Ascending the elevator shaft, it spread when it reached the fifth floor. Awakened by the ringing of the alarm bells in their rooms, the guests who numbered in all about 700, rushed wildly about, seeking safety. Those on the upper floors were driven back into their rooms by the smoke, which filled the hallways, and when the firemen arrived they were greeted by cries for assistance from scores of men and women who, scantily clad, were shivering on the window ledges. Smoke was pouring out around them, and soon two men were compelled to leap to avoid the flames. Both were killed. One of them has been identified as J. B. PEISINGER, a traveling salesman from New York. MISS M. E. HODGES, a guest, sought a fire escape, but, having opened the wrong window on the seventh floor, she was driven to step off the ledge. Her body was horribly mangled. Death was instantaneous.

Fireman Meets Death.
Capt. JOHN BERWIN, of the hook and ladder company, having broken open a window on the seventh floor which he had reach my means of a scaling ladder, stumbled onto the body of MRS. EMALINE BARLOW, an aged woman. He strapped the unconscious form to his bacak and started down the ladder. When midway between the seventh and sixth floors the strap broke. Bending over to balance the body for a moment, he then leaned at the risk of his life and threw the woman toward a projecting ledge on the floor below. Apparently being revived by the fresh air or by the shock, the aged woman grasped the projection and held on. Later she was rescued. But in throwing the woman to safety Capt. BERWIN lost his balance and fell to the pavement. He was instantly killed.

A Thrilling Rescue.
One of the most thrilling rescues was that of F. A. CHAMBERLAIN, of the Security bank, and members of his family, who were not awakened in time to make their escape by the usual exits. For many minutes after it appeared their position was untenable they remained at their window in the topmost story at the Fiftieth street and Hennepin avenue corner. MR. CHAMBERLAIN gathered bedding and sheets and made a rope of them, and at the same time the extension ladders were being placed in position, but were found too short.
The pompier ladders were rushed to the scene and a fireman, with a rope about him firmly placed, scaled the ladder to the cheers of thousands of excited spectators. Arriving at the window he took one after the other, lowered them safely to the extension ladder, two stories beneath, by means of the rope, whence they were brought to safety.
The rescue was accomplished amid death-like silence when the fireman reached the window. When the last persons had been lowered and the fireman followed, the cheering broke loose. It was one of the most thrilling scenes at a fire ever witnessed in this city.
J. E. WOLF, 50 years old, sales representative for Sperry & Alexander, wholesale hardware merchants, New York, met a horrible death. He was burned in his room, and the condition of the furniture indicated that he had fought the flames until the last. All the clothing had been torn from the bed and it was apparent that the man had sought to smother the flames which eventually consumed him.
THOMAS SOMERVILLE, of Springfield, Ill., a traveling salesman; W. G. NICHOLLS, a grain commission merchant of Minneapolis, and CLINTON LAMME, a traveling man from West Point, N. Y., were suffocated in their rooms. MRS. BARLOW may die from inhaling smoke. The property loss is estimated at $25,000.

Waterloo Times-Tribune Iowa 1906-01-11