Syracuse, NY Leland Hotel Fire, Oct 1890


SYRACUSE, Oct. 15.- The Leland hotel, the finest in the city, was totally destroyed by fire last night and it is feared there has been loss of life.

NEW YORK, OCT. 15.- It is reported from Syracuse, that probably 25 lives were lost by the Leland house fire. Full particulars are wanting.

SYRACUSE, Oct. 16. – What proved to be the most disastrous fire that has visited Syracuse for many years was discovered in the Leland hotel at 12:20 o’clock this morning. It is now 2 o’clock and the fire is burning freely, although the entire department, consisting of nine engines are working hard to save further loss of life or limb.

An eye witness of the fire says: “It is positive that at least 15 persons have lost their lives and that many more have been more or less injured. One woman was being lowered from a window by the aid of a rope. She had reached a point opposite the third story, when the rope, being ignited from a burning sill, parted and the woman fell to the pavement. Her brains were dashed out and her body flattened to a shapeless mass.”

So great is the confusion and excitement that the identity of those killed and injured is wholly unknown. Undertakers’ ambulances and other vehicles are flying in all directions and the streets in the neighborhood of the ill-fated hotel are thronged with excited crowds of people.

FRANK CARR, of Glen Falls, New York, has been identified as one of those that were burned to death Many people crazed with fright, lost their lives by jumping from windows. One man says he saw six people jump form different windows on the Fayette street side of the building within a space of five minutes. The sight sickened him with its horror and he was compelled to leave the spot. The building was provided with both iron fire escapes on the outside and ropes on the inside which were the means of saving many lives.

Burnett, Forbes, a stock broker of this city, escaped into the street almost entirely naked. He was slightly injured about the hands.

A woman was found with a nursing baby in her arms, crouching in a stairwao [sic], where she had been overcome by smoke. She was removed by the firemen, but has not yet regained consciousness and it is impossible to day what her name or experience was.

The fire is said to have started in the kitchen. The building was built two years ago at a cost of $150.00. It is six stories high and contains 400 rooms. It is impossible to learn how many guests were in the hotel at the time the fire broke out.

The total loss will not fall short of half a million dollars and is partially covered by insurance, but it is impossible to learn how much insurance was carried on the hotel furniture or what the individual losses will be.

Among those injured is Cora Tanner, the actress, who was severely burned about the head and feet. She was playing an engagement at the Grand Opera house and had a room in the hotel. Every physician in Syracuse is on the ground. Most of those killed were on the fourth and fifth floors.

3 A. M. – The hotel is still burning. Vague rumors are afloat that the list of killed will number 50 persons, but this fact, cannot be substantiated and it is believed the number will be less than 25, the first estimate.

Guard lines stretched across the streets are inadequate to keep back the surging crowds of people who are packing in the streets, leading to the hotel, and police are stationed all around the building. The scenes and incidents connected with the rescue of inmates are heartrending in the extreme. The cries of women standing in upper windows to the excited crowd below are deafening; and added to this the constant roar of many fire engines created a babel of confusion and panicky excitement in and around the hotel. Newspaper representatives are endeavoring with all energy at their command to obtain substantiated lists of those who have lost their lives but have met with little success.

The frightful shrieks of the guests and the crackle of the flames could be heard four blocks away. The building burned so rapidly that most of the people on the upper floors were obliged to use the fire escape or jump for their lives.

One woman appeared at the window in a room on the north side of the building with a baby in her arms. Her pitiful cries for help were heard until the flames gathered around her. The firemen tried in vain to raise a ladder on this side of the building. The woman was told to throw out the rope or jump from the window. She threw the rope and as she was climbing out the window, the flames enveloped her and she fell back into the building and perished.

Several children jumped from the upper story window onto a shed in the rear of the building. At one time several persons were struggling together on the shed, which had already caught fire from the flying sparks. Several of the victims were seen to tear off their bodies broken garments that had caught fire.

One woman lay on the ground where she had fallen, tearing the hair from her head. Her hair had caught fire, and it was with difficulty that the flames were quenched. She, together with the others who had jumped from the rear windows was picked up and carried on a stretcher to a saloon in the neighborhood.

One of the most frightful incidents of the fire was the terrible death of a woman who jumped form the fifth story of the building. Several policemen stood on the sidewalk holding nets ready to catch the guests as they jumped. Two persons, a man and a woman, jumped into one of the nets almost at the same moment and escaped with broken limbs. The next to jump was a woman who appeared in a window in the fifth story in her night clothes. She leaped out of the window and missing the net was dashed to pieces on the stone sidewalk.

It is now 4:45 o’clock and although the hotel is still burning, the fire department have the flames under control. There are four dead bodies lying at different undertaking establishments and one dead at St. Joseph’s hospital. These bodies have not yet been identified. It will be utterly impossible to learn definitely how many were burned to death and whose bodies will never be found.

SYRACUSE, N. Y., Oct. 16.- The loss on the Leland hotel exceeds $125,000. The hotel costs $80,000. The furniture was all destroyed. Considerable loss was sustained by the American Express company in its building and express matter adjoining the hotel. Individual inmates of the hotel lost heavily in personal effects. The probable loss of life will not exceed eight [sic] three guests and five servants. Thirty were severely injured.


SYRACUSE, N.Y., Oct. 16. – The following is a corrected list of the dead:
ANNIE CUMMINGS, of New York, a servant, 24 years old.
WILLIAM L. HARROIS, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, 25 years old.
BRIDGET DOYLE, of Marcellus, 25 years old.
ROSE SCHWARTZ, aged 23 years, a servant.

Mary Doyle and Mary Hadden, servants, as missing. It is supposed they perished.
At 3 o’clock this afternoon the superintendent of public works ordered the men engaged in exploring the ruins to stop work, as al the missing had been accounted for.

Aspen Weekly Times, Aspen, Pitkin Co., CO 18 Oct 1890