Victor City, CO Jail Fire, Feb 1898


Denver, Feb. 7. --- A special to the Republican yesterday from Victor said:

HARRY HALEY, THOMAS QUINN and JAMES CONNORS lost their lives this morning in a fire which partially consumed the city jail here, and PATRICK M. McAULIFFE lies in a precarious condition at the Iowa house as a result of the same cause.

All of the men were graders in the employ of Contractor Dumphy of the Florence & Cripple Creek Railway. The catastrophe was the most horrible ever occurring in Victor, with the single exception of the Anna Lee mine disaster of some two years ago.

The firing of the jail was the frenzied act of JAMES CONNORS while crazed by drink.

About 6 o'clock this morning the jail building was discovered to be on fire, and shortly afterward flames were bursting through the pitch pine structure. The fire department reached the scene promptly and two streams of water were at once directed upon the flames, which were soon under control.

When it was stated that four prisoners were confined in the building, the assembled crowd was filled with horror, and citizens, police and firemen worked like Trojans to rescue the unfortunate from the horrible fate which threatened them. It seemed like an almost hopeless task from the first, so fierce were the flames and dense the smoke. Yet the rescuers worked on, and at last groped through the blinding smoke to the large room in the rear of the jail, where three men were stretched apparently lifeless on the floor, and laying hold of them dragged them out into the air. Two were dead, having succumbed to the suffocating smoke, and the third, P. M. McAULIFFE, was gasping and struggling for breath. He was moved to the Iowa house and Doctors McKENZIE and GEORGE summoned. After a prolonged effort they succeeded in restoring McAULIFFE to consciousness, and he is now thought to be out of danger.

As soon as the flames had been subdued, an examination of the jail was made, and in a cell at the rear of the building was found the blackened, charred and almost unrecognizable body of JAMES CONNORS, whose rash act was the cause of the terrible catastrophe.

An investigation was made by the coroner. After the testimony was all in the jury, at 7 o'clock this evening, returned the following verdict:
“We the jury, find that JAMES CONNORS, THOMAS QUINN and HARRY HALEY came to their death in the Victor jail about 6 a. m. to-day from suffocation by smoke, and we also believe the fire in the jail was started by JAMES CONNORS. And we further find that the night police force of this city were careless in their duty by not visiting the jail at regular intervals.”

Summit County Journal Colorado 1898-02-12