Cincinnati, OH Business Section Fire, Feb 1903

Cincinnati OHIO Area of Fire of 1903.jpg

BIG FIRE AT CINCINNATI.

HALF A SQUARE DESTROYED WITH LOSS OF PERHAPS $2,000,000.

PIKE OPERA HOUSE AND BUSINESS BUILDING IN RUINS -- MISS HENRIETTA GROSMAN'S TOUR INTERRUPTED.

Cincinnati, Feb. 26. -- More than one-half of the best square in Cincinnati, bounded by Vine, Fourth, Walnut, and Third Streets, was destroyed by fire today.
That half north of Baker Alley, with the exception of the Carlisle Building, at the southwestern corner of Fourth and Walnut Streets, is in ruins, while the American Book Company's publication house, the Woodrose printing works, the Zumbriel box factory,and other concerns on the south side of Baker Alley are also burned out.
The loss is estimated at from $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. Owing to a recent advance of insurance rts in that portion of the city to a figure that property owners considered excessive few of the burned buidings were injured fully, and some of them not at all.
The fire was discovered at 1:30 A.M, and it was 1:30 P.M. before it was fully under control, although all the fire departments of surrounding towns were constantly pouring dozens of streams on the conflagration.
While the property loss is the greatest in the history of the city by fire, it is believed that there was no loss of life. Two men who lodged in the Pike Opera House building, however, are still missing tonight.
The fire originated in the basement of a grocery store in the Pike Building, a six-story structure on Fourth Street, between Vine and Walnut. It was spread an hour later, when it seemed to be under control, by an explosion, presumably of liquors. The Pike Building burned out and tumbled down in ruins. The large buildings immediately adjoini it on the east, that owned by the L. B. Harrison estate and occupied by many stores and offices, the six-story Carlisle Building, and the Fordick Building were totally destroyed. On the west the large Seasongood Building was badly damaged.
Crossing the alley known as Baker Street, the flames caught the large publishing house of the American Book Company and destroyed it. On that side is located the telephone building, and that caught fire several times. For several hours with the building filled with stifling smoke, the telephone girls remained at their call boards untl finally the connections were broken. For some time the city was without telephone communication. Repairs were made, and when the day shifts of girls came to work they picked their way through the smoke and took up their work at the time the danger seemed to be mot threatening.
WILL JONES, a well known Cincnnati actor, was rescued from the top of the Pike Building a moment before the roof fell. His presence of mind saved his life. e hd been sleeping in a sudio, and awoke with heavy coughing due to smoke.
He made his way to the roof. He saw firemen rescuing people from windows below and shouted to them, but they did not hear. He then wrote on one of his cuffs: "I am on the roof. Nearly dead from gas" JONES.

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