Brooklyn, NY Wall Falls While Fighting Fire, Nov 1906





During the destruction of a building by fire in the Plymouth Steam Laundry, extending from 86 to 92 Third Street, Brooklyn, but which they discovered to be a veritable tinder-box before they got through, one firemen was killed and seven were injured yesterday morning. Of the injured at least two are likely to die. The accident was caused by a falling wall. The dead and injured are:
JAMES W. McCOSKER, fireman, of 110 North Eighth Street, of Engine Company No. 103.
JAMES W. FINLEY, fireman, of 56 Wall Street, both legs broken and head and body crushed, will probably die.
OWEN J. WARD, fireman, of 337 Columbia Street, head and body crushed, very serious, taken to the Long Island College Hospital.
JOHN KELLY, fireman, of 91 Amity Street, dislocated shoulder.
JOSEPH F. FITZPATRICK, fireman, of 172 Hull Street, leg broken and head crushed.
JOHN BLACK, fireman, of 590 Sixth Street, Brooklyn, both ankles broken, piece of his nose gone, and head crushed.
JOHN B. DONAVAN, Lieutenant of Engine Company No. 103, slightly cut on the head, refused to go home.
Battalion Chief KIRK, face cut, continued working at the fire.
This shell of a building the firemen attacked a little after 6 o'clock. The place had been a pottery once, in fact a portion of it is still used for making vitalized brick. The fire started in the washing room of the laundry. The exact time of the alarm was 6:15. Engine Company 103, the company which suffered the greatest loss by death and injuries, was one of the first to respond. Four alarms were turned in before the fire was put out.
Whether the baking of the pottery or the heat of the laundry had rendered the interior so tinderlike nobody knows, but the place burned as though it were a pile of chips. To the east of the laundry there are two frame tenements. They were separated from what was the laundry by a narrow alleyway only. The tenements are occupied by several families.
In the rear of the laundry and on the side where the wooden tenements are there was a one story extension, used as the drying room. In order if possible to save the tenements, and also because the spot offered a splendid vantage ground for the fireman to direct their streams from. Lieut. DONAVAN, with ten of his men, climbed upon the roof of this extension. They had been on it for several minutes and had several fine streams directed into the interior of the building when suddenly the eastern wall of the main structure fell outward and crushed the extension, carrying with it all the firemen upon it.
Of the ten men who were on the extension only two crawled out from under the debris comparatively unhurt. Deputy Chief LALLY was at the front of the building directing the work. He had heard the crash in the rear, and was making toward the little alleyway, when one of the uninjured firemen came out of the alleyway, yelling:
"My God, Chief, the men are buried; all of them!"
In a few seconds every uninjured fireman on the job was rushing toward the spot indicated. THere were soon so many firemen in the narrow alleyway trying to rescue their fellows that some of them had to be ordered out, because the rest didn't have room to work. Mostly with their bare hands the firemen began to tear and dig at the pile of bricks beneath which their fellows were buried. Through the fallen timbers and other debris the groans and screams of the buried men could be plainly heard, and the rescuing firemen yelled words of encouragement and asked instructions to reach them as they dug.
One of the first men to be drawn out was McCOSKER. He was still alive, but so badly crushed that it was evident even to the firemen that he could not live.
Last rites were performed by Fire Chaplain Father McGRONEN, who was at the scene.
McCOSKER leaves a wife and three children. He had a splendid record.

The New York Times New York 1906-11-05