Cape May, NJ Fire, Aug 1869

FIRES.

Great Destruction of Property at Cape May.

A Large Portion of the Town in Ruins.

Two Hotels, the Post Office, and Twenty Stores Consumed.

A SCENE OF FEARFUL EXCITEMENT.

CAPE MAY.

Extent of the Fire-Excitement Among the Summer Visitors---The Losses and Insurance.

From Our Special Correspondent.

PHILADELPHIA, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 1869, A terrible fire has occurred at Cape May. At 3 o'clock this morning the crowds of Summer residents in the several hotels were startled and terrified by the cry of fire and the sight of flames and smoke. The fire was discovered in the frame building on Washington-street, known as the "Japanese store," and occupied by P. P. Boyton, pearl diver. The inflammable character of the building and its contents made certain the disaster at hand, for there was no means in the neighborhood to check the flames. So they spread with terrible rapidity, and in a few moments enwrapped the entire building, and leaped upon the Post Office adjoining. Almost in a moment this last was but a huge ball of fire, and as it shot out "forked tongues of flames," it was seen that the great United States Hotel near by was doomed. The guests hurriedly poured out in a great crowd, men, women and children, scarcely clothed, and unnerved by fright. Each person was burdened with such articles of personal property as he had been able to snatch up in the hurry and terror of the moment; men bore out trunks, and women and children struggled under unwieldy loads of clothing. But there was little time to save property, and hardly more than enough to make sure that no human being should be swallowed up in the hot fire. The great hotel, in a few moments, was like the Post Office, enveloped in flames, which cast its lurid light far out upon the ocean.

The town was now thoroughly aroused and alarmed. Every hotel, every house, every store was emptied of its inmates, who fled inland with such part of their portable property as they had been able to collect. Nor was the alarm groundless or the haste uncalled for. The flames spread with terrible rapidity. From the United States Hotel they swept along Washington-street so fast and so furiously that it was difficult, almost impossible, to note the order in which each successive victim was seized. Beginning at Washington-street the fire was stayed only by the sea, and cast and west was bounded by Ocean-street and Jackson-street. Within this large area, comprising the heart and beauty of the pleasant town, were many stores, hotels, restaurants, villas and cottages. All were destroyed. Not a timber was left untouched, and of the life and comeliness of last night, there was nothing but ruin and desolation.

The following is the list of prominent buildings consumed, with the loss in each case:

The Post Office..............................................$25,000
United States Hotel..........................................90,000
American Hotel................................................25,000
Atlantic Hotel...................................................60,000
Proskauer's Hotel............................................10,000
Barrett's saloon...............................................10,000
R. Swain's house............................................ 3,000
Townsend, dry goods...................................... 5,000
Young's bakery............................................... 5,000
Rhol, trimmings............................................... 1,500
Boynton, trimmings......................................... 1,000
Ferris' cottage................................................ 3,000
O'Brien, millinery............................................ 2,000
Alexander, jewelry.......................................... 2,500
Dillon, millinery............................................... 2,000
Smith, teas.................................................... 1,000
Elnaker's store.............................................. 2,500
Loftus' saloon............................................... 2,000
Koenig's saloon............................................ 2,000
Stearn's store............................................... 5,000
Hafoal's drug store....................................... 4,000
Greenwood's store....................................... 5,000
Jackson's store............................................ 2,000
Gallagher's store.......................................... 2,000
Atlantic Stables............................................ 2,000
Riogel's cottage........................................... 2,300
Mrs. Brittethal's house................................. 3,500
Six stores (occupants not known)................ 6,000
Two vacant buildings................................... 2,000
The Canary Bird Saloon.............................. 1,000
Total loss................................................ $285,500

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