Chicago, IL Swift & Co Fire, Jul 1902

Chicago Has A Big Fire.

Swift & Co., Suffer Loss Estimated at $1,000,000-Building Ruined.

Chicago, July 5.-By a fire which broke out in their plant at the stock yards to-night, Swift & Co. suffered a loss which is estimated by the officials of the company at $1,000,000.

The fire was confined to one building standing at the intersection of Packers Avenue and Broadway. This structure was four stories high. Built of brick, and was 300 feet square. The first floor was occupied by the wholesale meat market of the company, the second by the shipping department, and the third and fourth by the general offices of the company.

The latter are said to have been the largest single offices in the United States, more than 800 employees working on one of the floors in a single room.

The cause of the fire is not known, but it was discovered near the engine room. It spread so rapidly through the building that it was found impossible to save anything in the structure.

The first arrivals of the fire department were unable to check the fire, and repeated calls were sent in for assistance, but all the engines that the department could gather were not able to prevent the entire destruction of the building. Within an hour after the fire was discovered, the building was ruined, although it continued to blaze for a long time.

The burned building adjoins portions of plants of Armour & Co. and Libby, McNiel & Libby, and for a time the Fire Department had a desperate fight to keep these buildings from the flames. The wind was blowing strong from the southwest, and at times the flames were touching the side of Armour’s building, but the firemen managed to confine the fire to the building in which it had occurred. All the books and office records of Swift & Co. were in the burned building, but they are thought to be safe as they were in fire-proof vaults.

J. McGonigle, the Superintendent of the plant, said tonight that the loss will aggregate fully $1,000,000. There were, he said, 3,950 beeves in the building, and great quantities of green hides and tallow. The general supplies of the company were stored in the meat market and in the cellars, and everything in and about the building was destroyed.

Superintendent McGonigle telephoned to Mr. Swift, who was at his country home near Lake Geneva, that the loss would be total. The insurance carried by the company will cover all losses.

The New York Times, New York, NY 6 Jul 1902