Battle Creek, MI Sanitarium Fire, Feb 1902

Sanitarium Rebuilt After the Fire

So far as can be learned, there was no loss of life, among the 400 people in the sanitarium, although one or two are said to be missing, and it is possible that their bodies may be in the ruins. However, these missing may be in one of the houses or hotels which have taken in the homeless patients. Mrs. H. C. MCDANIELS, or Eldorado, Kansas, is the only person known to be seriously injured. She jumped or fell from the fire escape at the third story, and sustained a broken leg.

The fire started in the bath room of the sanitarium building, probably about the furnace. A still alarm was turned in, but the first company of firemen called could not cope with the flames which ran up the elevator shaft to the roof. A general call was sent in, but the fire was then beyond control. The water pressure was low and this added to the handicap of the firemen.

In two hours the building was in ruins and the hospital was nearly destroyed. It is almost miraculous that the 400 sleeping inmates escaped with their lives.

Watchmen darted through the corridors awakening them when the fire was discovered. Few of them had time to gather together any clothing and escaped in their night clotnes [clothes].

LATER REPORTS

One life is supposed to have been lost. Abner CASE, age 83, of Bath, NY., is missing and it is thought his body is buried in the ruins. There were at least 300 persons in the main building when the fire broke out in the basement. This building was five stories high and as soon as the fire was discovered, the night attendants on each floor gave the alarm in the corridors and the patients made their escape aided by nurses.

While fighting the fire from ladders Fireman Henry A. LUCAS fell to the ground and received injuries of a serious nature. Fireman Arthur ROBINSON also fell from a ladder and was badly hurt about the body. His lungs were also injured by inhaling fire. Assistant Fire Chief Fred H. WEBB fell from a ladder. His head was injured and ribs were broken. Fireman Frank C. HOUGHTALING also received serious injuries.

Fire Captain FONDA saved eight lives. Among the patients were Ira D. SANKEY, the evangelist and his wife, who climbed down a fire escape. When the fire was discovered Mr. SANKEY was in the office. His wife was in her room on the fourth floor. The evangelist hastenede [hastened] to her apartments and without a trace of excitement in his voice told her there was need of making a hasty exit. The couple reached the ground in safety but all of their belongings were lost.

Grand Forks Daily Herald, Grand Forks, ND 19 Feb 1902

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