Boston, MA Albany Street Fire, Aug 1910


Twelve Firemen Are Injured Fighting Big Blaze in the Lumber District.


Several Buildings Wiped Out, Including Fire Repair Station---Entire Corps Called Out.

Special to The New York Times,

BOSTON, Aug. 9.----About $1,500,000 worth of property on Albany Street, the lumber district, was wiped out last night, twelve firemen were seriously injured and the entire South End, with its thickly settled tenements, was threatened for hours by the worst fire since the Kingston Street fire of 1889.

Five firemen were caught in a shower of bricks and burning embers when the rear wall of the Pauli Building, a wood-working establishment on the west side of Albany Street, buckled and fell. The injured men are Capt. John P. McManus. Lieut. Harry Hibbard, and Edward O'Connell, James Gallagher, and Edward Shea. O'Connell is the most seriously injured, with a broken leg. The others received contusions and abrasions about the head and body. All were treated at the City Hospital.

While the entire department of Boston was fighting the Albany Street fire, thirty-three pieces of apparatus from twelve outside cities grappled with a four-alarm fire that destroyed a big manufacturing plant of the H. W. Jones Mandeville Asbestos Co. at 55 High Street. The newly installed Metropolitan Fire System calling in aid from every outside city within a radius of fifteen miles, was put in use for the first time. The fire protection concentrated by this system was taked[sic] to its utmost, not merely to cover the city but to check the spread of the two big fires that raged at the same time in two different parts.

The Albany Street fire, which the Boston department checked after it had eaten into 100 tenements and destroyed all the buildings and lumber on the west side of Albany Street from Dover to Randolph Street, and all the property east of Albany Street to the South Cove, was the first general alarm fire since the Pope Manufacturing fire in 1896.

When the apparatus responded to the first alarm the fire had engulfed the great piles of lumber in the Blacker & Shepard yards. Deputy Chief Grady immediately realized the task he had to cope with. Within five minutes after the first alarm he had the general alarm sounded, calling in every piece of apparatus in the city, leaving the rest of the city uncovered except for the outside departments which immediately covered it. Near approach to the lumber yards was impossible. From a distance the firemen saw the flames whip south to the American Coal Company, toward Randolph Street North, and spread toward Dover Street.

In a few moments the fire raged along the east side of Albany Street with a front of four blocks extending back to South Cove. It was along this fighting line that the bravery and grit of the Boston Fire Department was shown. Early in the fire Engine 22 and it company took up its stand on Thayer Street, as near the corner of Albany Street as it was possible to reach in the intense heat. To get a position of vantage, Lieut. Hibbard, with fifteen men of Engine 22, mounted to the roof of the J. F. Paul factory at the corner of Thayer and Albany Streets. The streams of water that they poured across Albany Street for a long time made their point in the fight line the best covered. From the roof they directed several streams into the blazing piles of lumber.

While they were engaged in the fire opposite Albany Street the flames had leaped the street further south. The firemen were unaware that the flames were eating into the very building on which they were working, and even could not see in the dense clouds of smoke.

Suddenly the roof under them started to burn. They turned their hose on the blazing part. The force of the water drove down a section of the roof, a mere husk, the supports being eaten out from under it.

The next moment the walls bulged and the entire roof dropped into the building. Some of the firemen landed clear. All were hurt by the fall, many seriously burned. A sortie of another company that had been unable to warn them rescued the men of Engine 22, and rushed them up Thayer Street to safety.

Meeting the stream of people who came from all over Boston was another stream of people, smoke-grimed, their faces strained and tense with panic, fighting their way from the fire, bearing all kinds of articles snatched up hurriedly from their deserted homes just back of the fighting line.

At the Dover Street end of the line was the famous old Brodbine Hall directly across from the lumber yards where the fire started. The flames leaped across from the piles of lumber to this building. It had been drenched with water, but in an instant, with a veer in the wind, it caught and was destroyed.

The streams of Fireboat 44 and half a dozen engines were massed on Brodbine Hall. Only a series of low stores separated it from a six-story apartment hotel occupied with several hundred families.

It leaped across Dover Street, engulfing a building on the north side on the east corner of Albany Street. Then, while the flames seemed likely to pass the limits set by the department at Dover Street and work north, the alarm for the High Street fire at the other end of the town was rung.

Boston was panic-stricken when a third and a fourth alarm from the seat of the new fire was rung, but soon both blazes were under control.

Among the buildings destroyed was the Boston Fire Department repair station, in which several pieces of fire apparatus were lost. It was estimated that the Blacker & Shepard Company's loss would exceed $300,000. The Boston Fire Departments' damage on the repair shop and its contents was estimated by one of the Chiefs to be about $150,000. The Fire Department Headquarters, directly in the rear of the repair shop, were saved.

The New York Times, New York, NY 10 Aug 1910