Buffalo, NY Warner Brothers Building Fire, Jan 1891




BUFFALO, N. Y., Jan. 23.----The new and handsome building of Warner Brothers, at Terrace and Pearl Streets, was almost completely ruined by fire to-night. Within a week of the destruction of the Walbridge Building more than another quarter of a million dollars has gone up in smoke. The building was erected about a year and a half ago. It was of brick, trimmed with but stone, five stories high. The structure had a frontage on Pearl Street of 134 feet. It was square except on the Terrace Street side, where it followed the line of the street. It was divided into four stores. The southerly one, occupied by Warner Brothers, wholesale clothiers, had a frontage of 64 feet on Pearl Street; the next, occupied by Darling & Scholes, was 20 feet front and 115 feet deep; the third, leased by Zingsheim & Harris, had a frontage of 20 feet and a depth of 80, and the last, that of L. Marcus & Son, had 30 feet frontage and was 115 feet in depth. Each stone was separated from the next by a solid wall of brick 20 inches thick at the base and 16 at the top. These walls ran six feet above the roof, to prevent the spreading of fire in case it should start in one of the stores. There was no connection of the stores except between that of Warner Brothers and the open adjacent. All the provisions of the Board of Underwriters and the Fire Department had been carefully complied with. The elevator ways were covered at each floor by tin-lined doors, making each floor complete. The division fire walls were also well built. The cost of the building is said to have been $80,000.

The fire was discovered about 8:50 o'clock bursting simultaneously from the three stories of that section occupied by L. Marcus & Son, clothing dealers. The alarm was sent in from the firehouse on Franklin Street, directly back of the building. When the department arrived on the scene the Marcus store was entirely in flames, which shot out from all the windows.

The fire was difficult to get at, except from the front, being surrounded on nearly all sides by smaller buildings. It was thought at first that the fire could be confined to Marcus's store on account of the fire walls. They stood the test well, but the conflagration spread to Zingsheim & Harris and Darling & Scholes, through a court in the rear of the store of Zingsheim & Harris. All three stores had windows were equipped with iron shutters, none of which was closed as they should have been. Unable to penetrate the fire walls, the flames burst through these windows and were soon in the other buildings. There were then three separate fires, side by side, divided only by the walls which were designed to prevent this.

The fire was a very hot one. The firemen were obliged to remove the horses from Pearl Street, and for a time the firemen had to throw their streams from the side. The windows in the stores across the street cracked and fell in. The paint on the cornices began to boil. Streams were carried up to the roof of Deshecker, Weil & Co.'s building and directed at the burning building and directed at the three top stories Zingsheim & Harris fell in, and the bricks clattered into the street, falling all around the firemen. At 9:10 o'clock Warner Brothers' store, which throughout had remained dark, showed signs of the effect of the great heat at its side. The windows in the two upper stories were blown into the street, and great clouds of smoke emerged. Nevertheless, there was no flame. Twenty minutes after the discovery of the fire the roof and floors of the three stores had fallen, the windows were completely gone, and the flames lacked fuel.

The small buildings on the Terrace were damaged to a certain extent by water. They consisted of Murphy's Hotel, a three-story brick building, a Chinese laundry, a saloon occupying a three-story brick structure, and the building of John H. Smith & Son. Mr. Warner, one of the proprietors of the burned building, was summoned from the theatre and removed all his valuable papers from his office. He was at a loss to account for the origin of the fire. The entire building, he said, was heated by stream from one plant located under the sidewalk near the rear of his store. The building was lighted by incandescent lights, and there was, to his knowledge, no means by which the fire could have started. Mr. Warner did not know what his insurance was, as that part of the business was attended to by his brother. He could say, however, that both the stock and building were insured. He was unable to place any estimate upon the value of the stock, but it was heavy just at this time. The stock on the two upper floors over Darling & Scholes was of course entirely destroyed. The total loss is estimated at $300,000.

The names of the dead firemen are ADAM FISHER, foremen of Engine No. 4 and a member of the Fire Department since its organization, and ROBERT SNYDER, also of Engine No. 4. SNYDER was married and leaves two children.

The New York Times, New York, NY 24 Jan 1891