New Haven, CT Railroad Car Fire, May 1903

Passengers Leave Burning Sleeping Car in Nightclothes.

Sixteen Men and Four Women Hurried from Temporary Home.

Woman Injured--Man Nearly Suffocated--Several Lose Valuables.

New Haven, Conn., May 14--Passengers, including 16 men and four women had to flee in their night clothing, early Thursday, from a burning sleeping car at the Union station. The car was near the rear end of the N. Y., N. H. & H. Railroad train which left New York at 11 o'clock Wednesday night for Boston by way of Springfield. When the train reached here at 1 o'clock sleeping car No. 2032 was connected with a pipe which supplied the cars with gas and the gas supply was turned on. Immediately afterwards a slight explosion was heard. Flames burst out and the car filled with smoke.

The passengers dazed with sleep and half blinded by the smoke made a rush for the doors. A woman was knocked down and suffered a slight injury to her back and right arm, but said she was not seriously hurt. An old gentleman who had difficulty in getting out of his berth close to the point where the fire started was nearly suffocated but was finally assisted from the car and seemed to be all right after he reached the open air.

The firemen with the aid of a chemical engine and a stream of water put out the blaze and then begun a hunt for the passengers' valuables.

B. D. Kaplan, of 227 East 68th street, New York, said he left about $80,000 in money and securities in the car. After a search a wet wallet containing the missing securities was found and Mr. Kaplan then said he had recovered everything except some money which was burned up in his clothes. Others who said they had lost money or valuables were F. B. Clark, New York, S. G. Beals of 39 Broadway, New York; Herbert Langford, Plainfield, N. J.; and A. Freshil, Chicago. It is believed however, that when a more careful search of the car is made most of the missing money and articles will be found. The handbags and clothing of most of the passengers were soaked.

As quickly as possible the railroad officials looked after the comfort of the lightly clad passengers, the women being taken to a hotel and the men provided with overalls and shoes. Some of the passengers remained here all night while others continued their journey to Boston.

Daily Kennebec Journal, Augusta, ME 15 May 1903