New Haven, CT Jail Fire Claims Six Firemen, Apr 1910

New Haven Jail Fire Ruins New Haven Jail On Fire



New Haven, April 14. -- Death in a terrifically intense fire which destroyed the New Haven county jail and large chair shops of the New England Chair Co. Wednesday, it is feared was the fate of half a dozen firemen, for when the companies were mustered this afternoon it was found that six men were not accounted for.
The hospitals were caring for five other men who were terribly burned and fully a score of other wounded firefighters were bravely keeping at work.
The missing men are:
Capt. CHAPMAN and Lieut. WILLIAM J. DOHERTY of truck No. 1.
Hosemen JAMES MORTELL, JAMES CULLEN and McGRATH of company No. 4.
Hoseman BUCKLEY of company No. 1.
As nothing has been seen of the six missing men after an explosion occurred in the jail annex, it is feared that all were buried in the ruins and their bodies incinerated.
The deputy sheriffs marched out 288 prisoners without the least sign of breach discipline.
The explosion of a small boiler in the chair making plant caused serious injuries to Capt. O'NIEL of engine company 4, and firemen VAUGH, HUFFY, BEEDY and CHAPMAN who were with him in the boiler room fighting to stop the flames from getting through a party wall. This explosion blew a hole in a wall and lifted the roof of this section of the jail. Through the hole other firemen pushed ladders and rescued the endangered men.
At the same time the jail prisoners were being marched out upon the lawn by the deputy sheriff's in good order and later transported to police headquarters in patrol wagons. The women prisoners were carried to the armory of the 2d company of Foot guards and there guarded by the matrons and police.
The fire at 11 o'clock had assumed such serious proportions and the crowd of spectators was becoming so unwieldy that the New Haven Grays, the New Haven Blues and the New Haven Light guard, all companies of the 2d Connecticut Infantry, were assembled and went to the assistance of the police reserves.
The losses in the fire were not expected to exceed $100,000 as there was no likelihood of much damage to surrounding property, the jail occupying an entire square, except on the westerly side, where there are numerous small houses.
The chair shops were of wooden structure very old and rambling in design. As they were filled with chair stock and materials the fire not only spread from some unknown beginning but engulfed several buildings almost before the fire apparatus arrived. A three story L connected the shops with the jail, and the partition was a heavy brick wall. Probably the fire would have been stayed at this wall had not the explosion occurred.
Many firemen were burned more or less severely. None of the prisoners were hurt nor were any of the workers in the shops missed.
The chair company used prisoners under contract for their labor, the foreman being outsiders who also handled work by contract.
The fire was brought under control shortly after 12:30. At that time it was estimated that the total loss was about $175,000.
Upon mustering the fire companies at 1 p.m. six firemen were reported missing and five were at the hospital.

Portsmouth Herald New Hampshire 1910-04-14