New York City, NY Fire Panic In Factory, Jan 1903
There are two bruised, unconscious, hysterical young women unidentified at St. Vincent's Hospital, and there is one at New York Hospital. The condition of each of them is serious.
Albert Behan, nineteen years old, of No. 309 Ninth Street,Jersey City, was working on paper patterns on the third floor of No. 159 Crosby Street, when a steel rule that had been used to keep the sheets in place on an adjoining table, fell to the floor and struck on another steel implement. The spark that flew from that clash set fire to a mound of tissue paper scraps on the floor. The flames spread rapidly.
Behan yelled, and threw himself headlong on the fire and tried to beat it out with his hands and crush it with the weight of his body. But it passed him and spread rapidly. This was at 8:45 A.M.
The third floor was ablaze in three or four places at once. One of the employees ran down stairs and tried to send in a fire-alarm, but in his excitement he did not pull the lever far enough, so no signal was received.
Sergt. Edward Bourke, looking from the window of Police Commissioner George's office, saw the flames at the Elm Street end of the Crosby Street building and started for it on a run. He picked up Policemen Kelly and Moneypenny on the way. They turned in a fire alarm, and then ran up the stairs to the burning floor and hustled out those who remained. Cora van Blochlin fainted and was carried out by Foreman Albert Hayward, who is a volunteer fireman in Passaic, N.J.
The policemen took stations on the stairways and hurried the girls down, three abreast, until all were gone. Mean time John Bolan, the elevator boy, and Jules Binsley, running the freight elevator, kept their cars going until they carried down fifty girls from J. L. & M. Jacob's label-printing shop on the fifth floor. Every one escaped from this building unhurt. The fire was confined to the third floor and was soon extinguished.
Three hundred girls and two hundred men were at work in Miller's cigar factory when the glare of the flames next door reflected by the windows on the opposite side of Crosby Street alarmed them. Suddenly a great volume of smoke rolled in through the third floor windows and an excited girl shrieked "Fire!"
In the twinkling of an eye nearly every human being in the building was in panic. All started at once for the doors, for the windows that opened on fire-escapes, for any avenue of flight frm the unseen peril, that was really no peril at all, save in their imagination.
There was an awful crush on the fire-escapes at the front of the Miller factory. There were iron ladders at the foot of the fire-escapes, but no one thought of lowering them to the sidewalk. Men and girls came pell-mell down the escapes and dropped or were pushed off to the street.
The World New York 1903-01-24