Brooklyn, NY Police Gazette Fire, Dec 1906


And Brooklynites Will Miss Their Favorite Timepiece.


Back Draught Warded Off by a Wall of Water---The Loss May Reach $100,000.

Another chapter of the history that clings to the vicinity of Pearl and Dover Streets, where the first Presidential mansion and Ben Franklin's cottage stood, was closed yesterday morning when the Richard K. Fox Company's Police Gazette Building was wrecked badly by fire.

On the top of this building, which was a landmark of thirty years' standing, stood a clock which had come to be regarded by Brooklynites crossing the bridge to Manhattan as a relentless timekeeper. It had almost become an instinct with the bridge travelers to crane over the tops of their newspapers in the mornings to see just how long oversleep and the B. R. T. had made them late for work.

Yesterday morning, when they peeped through the sleet-dimmed windows of the cars that crawled in a the Manhattan end of the bridge instead of The Police Gazette clock there stood a ruined tower which had been the pedestal of Brooklyn's timekeeper.

Several hours earlier, just before the dawn came out of Brooklyn, the clock, with its hand pointing to 4:30 and its familiar face lit with a ruddy glow, had peered out of coiling, waving, curling, and leaping masses of flame. A few minutes later Brooklyn's timekeeper, its pedestal burned from under, it plunged into the street and burst in a mass of hot bearings, redhot springs, and smoking wheels.

The fire is believed to have started on the eighth floor, which is occupied by the New York Coil Company. Stephen Gildersleeve, the night watchman, was on the fifth floor when he heard a muffled explosion. Running to the street, he discovered that flames were shooting from the windows of the top story and working downward as well as through the roof. A woman from an adjoining tenement had told Policeman Schultz on the corner that there was a fire, and the officer had already turned in an alarm.

Capt. Donovan, upon arriving with Truck 12, turned in two other alarms, which brought Acting Chief Binns. He arrived just in time to save half a dozen men of Engine 12 from death. These men, who had just pulled their lines to the fire escapes of the seventh floor, encountered a back draught. Chief Binns ordered that all the streams be played between the men and the flames. This was done, and a curtain of water protected the men until the back draught ceased.

All six firemen were burned more or less, but none so seriously that he could not continue to work. Their injuries, mainly about the face and hands, were dressed in the street by an ambulance surgeon from St. Gregory's Hospital. Several of the men, including Chief Binns, had a narrow escape when the clock and a portion of the tower fell into Dover Street.

The fire was not under control for several hours, and in the meantime traffic on the Second Avenue elevated road, which runs along Pearl Street at that point, was at a standstill, the power having been shut off by order of Chief Binns. The occupants of tenements adjoining the Police Gazette Building were ordered into the street and compelled to remain there until all danger of the fire spreading was averted.

The damage by fire and water is estimated at from $75,000 to $100,000. It was believed at first that large quantities of sporting records owned by The Police Gazette had been destroyed, but the Superintendent of the building said later that, as these had been kept in a safe, they were probably unharmed.

The New York Times, New York, NY 18 Dec 1906