Chicago, IL Varsity Flat Fire, Feb 1902



Chicago, Feb. 6.-The Varsity flat building situated at the southwest corner of Sixtieth street and Ellis avenue, was completely destroyed by fire this evening entailing an aggregate loss upon the structure and tenants of $160,000. The building was four stories high and contained 47 flats, all of which were occupied. All tenants had ample time to escape, however, and no lives were lost. The fire started in the basement in a pile of rubbish and for the time it was impossible to locate the blaze. The building became so filled with smoke, however, that everybody was out before the flames were discovered.

During the fire an explosion in a grocery store located in the building hurled Fireman JAMES TILLMAN from the fire escape on the second story to the ground, breaking his thigh and injuring him internally. ROBERT HARTLEY, another firemen, was thrown from a window in the second story and his head badly cut. He was also badly burned by the explosion. Policeman JOHN COALE, who was in the grocery at th time of the explosion, was blown down and badly burned about the face. The building was owned by THOMAS BURNS of this city and was fully covered by insurance.

Grand Forks Daily Herald, Grand Forks, ND 7 Feb 1902


A Chicago Landlord's Goodness to Families Made Homeless by Fire.

From the Chicago Tribune.

"And may it help you to get a new start. Be brave and everything will come out all right."

With this wish, modestly spoken, forty-seven envelopes, each containing $100 in new greenbacks, were passed over the counter of the drug store at Sixty-first street and Ellis avenue Saturday afternoon. One envelope was given to a member of each of the forty-seven families, who had been burned out of the Universtiy flats fifteen hours before, by their former landlord, THOMAS BYRNE, owner of the destroyed building.

While Mr. BYRNE, standing behind the counter, shook the hand of husband or wife and passed out the white envelopes, firemen across the street played streams of water on the burning embers which marked where forty-seven homes had been a few hours before. Half doubting the good fortune which had befallen them, a line of men and women, some of them the heads of families numbering a dozen members, thanked their benefactor.

It was early morning when a message reached the fire stricken from Mr. BYRNE.

"There'll be $100 for every family at Allen's drug store at 3 o'clock this afternoon," was the telephone message to inspector HUNT at the Hyde park police station. "Let all the people know. We must have a little meeting to give thanks that no one was injured and no lives lost."

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