Dunkirk, NY Fire At Fredonia Institution Kills Seven, Dec 1900



Wire Window Screens Prevented Easy Access to the Fire Escapes -- Nothing Saved from the Building.

Dunkirk, N. Y., Dec. 14 -- From the smoldering ruins of the Fredonia State Normal and Training School, which was destroyed by fire at 6 o'clock this morning, one charred body has been recovered, and it is now certain that seven persons perished in the fire.
There were seventy-five young women students in the building, of whom six perished. The other victim was the aged janitor. The dead are:
FIZZELL, MAUD F., Bradford, Penn.
HATHAWAY, BESSIE, Cannonsville, N. Y.
JONES, IRENE, Busti, N. Y.
MORRIS, PHINEAS J., janitor.
STORMS, CORA, Boston, N. Y.
WILLIAMS, MAE, Lake Como, Penn.
The young women occupied rooms on the third floor of the building in company with a matron. Those who succeeded in escaping did so by descending the fire escapes. The body recovered from the ruins is supposed to be that of MISS STORMS. It was burned beyond recognition. To account for the origin of the fire puzzles the local Board of Managers, as there was no furnace in the building, the heat being piped from a boiler two blocks away. The fire started in the private room of Janitor MORRIS, and was discovered by CHARLES GIBBS, assistant janitor, who notified MORRIS and then ran to the fire alarm station a block away. MORRIS evidently lost his life while fighting the blaze. MISS FIZZELL was seen on the fire escape, and turned back into the burning building to save a diamond ring. The others who perished were suffocated, being unable to find the fire escapes.
It is stated that heavy wire screens were firmly nailed across the windows leading to the fire escapes, and the only way those who escaped saved their lives was by crawling through windows adjacent to the escapes and then creeping along the gutter of the mansard roof. Lawyers say there will be damage suits instituted against the State because of the screens.
A search for the bodies is being made as rapidly as possible, but it is slow owrk digging over the acre of debris, which is still burning. Principal PALMER estimates the property loss at $200,000, with $93,000 insurance.
Nothing was saved from the building, not even the personal effects of the young women or the records of the school. Grief-stricken parents are beginning to arrive.
School has been adjourned until Jan. 3, when classes will meet in the halls and churches of the village. Plans for a new and larger structure are already under way. The Legislature will be asked to make an appropriation.

The New York Times New York 1900-12-15