Butte, MT Hale House Fire, Mar 1898
FATAL HOTEL FIRE.
UNKNOWN NUMBER OF PERSONS PERISH AT BUTTE, MONT.
TWENTY OR MORE ARE MISSING.
TWO KNOWN TO BE DEAD, ONE DYING AND SIX BADLY HURT.
FIRE BROKE OUT ABOUT 3 O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING AND THE INMATES HAD TO FLY IN THEIR NIGHT CLOTHES -- PROPERTY LOSS, $100,000.
Butte, Mont., March 21. -- The Hale house, a large three story brick building on East Broadway, used as a lodging and boarding house by miners in the employ of the Anaconda company, was entirely destroyed by fire which broke out shortly after 3 o'clock this morning. So far as known, two men are dead from injuries received in jumping from windows; another is dying, and twenty are missing, while a search of the ruins may disclose the fact that many transient lodgers lost their lives also.
MATT DOYLE, aged 45, miner, jumped from a third story window, turned over in the air and struck on his head and was killed.
FRANK ROHDY, aged 40, lately from Portland, Ore., jumped from a third story window, struck on his head and shoulders, fracturing his skull and killing him.
HUGH BOYLE, aged 30, miner at Anaconda mine, started to lower himself from third story by means of improvised rope, which parted fifty feet from the ground. He is dying. He was just recovering from the effects of a broken leg through an accident a month ago.
The following were injured:
PAT GALLIGAN, went down with third floor when it collapsed and was rescued by firemen; badly burned.
JOHN T. CARTER, stranger in the city, got out by means of a fire escape; badly burned and cut by glass.
J. J. CONROY, burned on hands and fractured bones by leaping to ground.
BARNEY REYNOLDS, fractured right leg. He found escape cut off and made a rope of his blankets. It broke when he was twenty feet from the ground.
MIKE JUDGE, right arm broken. He had rescued PATRICK BOYLE, who was hanging by a section of improvised rope that had broken from the weight of HUGH BOYLE. He and three companions made another rope. The others got down safely but the rope broke with JUDGE.
JOHN IRWIN, burned about the neck and face and cut by glass. He jumped from the third floor, but was only stunned by the fall.
There were 250 men and women in the building when the fire broke out. Of these, it is believed about 200 escaped without injury. The fire started in the bakery house of the center of the building, and had a good start before discovered. The blaze was first discovered by Billy White, Jake Yuch and Jack Dooley. They summoned the watchman and rushed to the upper portion of the building, shouting that the house was on fire. By this time the fire had broken through the first floor and smoke filled the hallways.
Dooley and his companions realized that there was no time to lose and they began kicking in the doors of the rooms. The men thoughtfully awakened the women first.
When the firemen arrived men in their underclothes and others half dressed were clambering down the fire escapes in the rear. Others and the servant girls were at windows in front of the building frantically calling for help. They were cut off from the rear of the building by the dense smoke. The ladders were run up, but not before many of the frightened people had jumped. Others, including all the female help, were gotten out by the firemen. On the side of the building many had made ropes of their bedclothes and sought to escape in that way. Some of them had succeeded, but in other cases the ropes broke and the men dropped many feet to the ground.
As fast as the inmates were rescued or jumped, those injured were placed in vehicles and carried to the different hospitals. Those injured slightly or uninjured betook themselves to the houses of neighbors and friends in order to secure some clothing. No one saved anything but what he or she had on at the time of the fire. This made it impossible to obtain a full list of many who were slightly hurt. The night was bitterly cold, the thermometer registering 5 below zero.
As long as there appeared any chance of people being in the building the firemen devoted themselves to saving human life. It was only after there was no further chance to this that they began work on the fire in earnest. The fire had gained such headway that, two hours after it began, the walls had fallen.
It is possible some of the missing men may turn up yet. Early in the day the list of the supposed dead ran up as high as fifty. This was because many of the men who escaped did not report for work at the mines. Little by little, however, the list decreased as men reported, until only twenty known lodgers were unaccounted for. It is possible, however, that a number of transient roomers who are not well known may be dead in the ruins.
Only an examination will settle that point and this cannot be made until the ruins cool off.
The Hale house belonged to the Anaconda company. It was built in 1895, at a cost of $70,000, and, with the furniture and belongings of the lodgers, the loss will reach fully $100,000.
Kansas City Journal Missouri 1898-03-22