New York, NY Windsor Hotel Fire, Mar 1899

Windsor Hotel Fire NYC 1899 collapsing wall collapsing wall Hotel Ruins





New York, March 18. -- The most complete list of casualties at the WIndsor Hotel fire shows that 14 persons were killed and possibly 15, without attempting to speculate on the bodies in the ruins. Forty persons are missing. Fifty-two names are in the list of injured, whose whereabouts are known.
Three fire engines and 100 policemen remained all Friday night about the burning building. Those engines poured six large streams of water on the flames, which would start up at intervals in spite of the firemen. Little explosions occurred every once in awhile from escaping gas, the pipes having been smashed all over the lower part of the building, the only part that was left. Citizens were kept a block away from the ruins, as pieces of wall were falling every now and then and there was danger that the portion of wall at the back of the building and that on the Forty-sixth street side might fall at any time. The bit of wall on the Forty-sixth street side tapered to a point and still help two chimneys in place. The wall, on the rear side, seven stories high, was still standing, but it looked as though it might fall with the first stiff breeze. The wall on the Forty-seventh street side was about two stories high and that in front on Fifth avenue the same height. The walls had breaks in them and had jagged tops, adding to the hideous appearance of the ruins behind them which smoked and steamed and emitted a bad stench.
Fifth avenue and Forty-sixth and Forty-seventh streets were impassable. They were covered with debris from the walls of the hotel and in many instance flagstones were broken by the great crash of stone and brick.
Gangs of men were kept all the night at the ruins, ready to begin the work of removing the debris so far as to find bodies burned underneath. Chief BONNER said Saturday that no firemen were missing.
About eight o'clock Saturday morning a few men were set to work on the Forty-seventh street side to tear down the wall, which was so dangerous it could not be allowed longer to remain standing. The contractor said that as soon as possible he would start the men to overhauling the ruins.

Policeman Rescued Five Persons.
Bicycle Policeman CHARLES LIEBOLD said he rescued five persons from the fire. He got four men out from one of the lower floors and carried a fifth man down on his shoulder. He heard a woman on the fifth floor, but though he tried to get her he was unable to do so, and he had to hurry out of the burning building.

Revised List of Dead.
JOHN CONNOLLY, employe of hotel, died at Flower hospital.
MRS. ADDIE GIBSON, 35, Cincinnati, O.; shock, died at Murray Hill hotel.
ELEANOR LOUISE GOODMAN, 17, daughter of Samuel Goodman, of this city, died at Bellevue hospital.
MISS LASELLES GRANDY, of Elizabeth City, N. C., here on a shopping tour, burned to death.
MRS. MAURICE HENRY, of this city, who died at Roosevelt hospital at nine o'clock Saturday morning, from burns and injuries.
NANCY ANN KIRK, wife of J. S. KIRK, soap manufacturer of Chicago, died at Bellevue hospital.
MRS. WARREN LELAND, wife of the proprietor of the hotel, burns on body; died at Flower hospital.
MISS HELEN LELAND, daughter of the hotel proprietor, found dead.
AMELIA PADDOCK, 35, of Irvington, N. Y., died at the fire.
MARY SULLIVAN, died at Bellevue hospital, of this city.
Unknown Man, who jumped from roof at reaf of hotel.
Unknown Woman, who jumped from a Fifth avenue window, died at HELEN GOULD'S house.
Unknown Child, thrown from window by mother.
Unknown Woman, mother of the child above mentioned, jumped from hotel window.
Unknown Woman, jumped from window, died at 19 East Forty-sixth street.

The Sick Accounted For.
New York, March 18. -- DR. PITKIN, house physician of the Windsor Hotel, has accounted for all of the six bedridden patients in the hotel, with the exceptino of MRS. JAMES H. STOKES, the widow of Gen. James H. Stokes, who he fears is among the dead.
Twelve little girls were taking a dancing lesson from MRS. DORA GRAY DUNCAN, of San Francisco, in a parlor on the fourth floor when the fire started. MRS. DUNCAN hurried the children down the stairs and with her two daughters was among the first to leave the building.
An unidentified woman about 30 years old died a few minutes after being taken into the house of Mrs. A. P. Adams of 19 East Forty-sixth street. Her legs and breastbone were broken. It was said by one of the employes of the hotel that the woman was from San Francisco. She wore a blck silk skirt and a purple waist.
THOMAS P. OCHILTREE, who escaped unhurt, lost valuable pictures and bric-a-brac.
So dense was the smoke that rolled along Fifth avenue that many sparrows which attempted to fly across were seen to fall to the street suffocated.

Warren Leland Insane.
Overcome by news of the death of his wife and daughter, following upon the destruction of the Windsor Hotel, WARREN F. LELAND, proprietor of the ruined hostelry, went insane Friday night. It is feared that he cannot survive the shock and that if he does his mind will be shattered.
WATTEN LELAND is at the Hotel Grenoble and is lying in the rooms just vacated by RUDYARD KIPLING. At 8:30 a.m. Saturday MR. LELAND'S mental condition was reported to be considerably improved.

Due To A Careless Smoker.
Regarding the origin of the fire, the Herald publishes the following: JOHN FOY, a waiter in the hotel, was passing through the hall on the parlor floor, the first above the street. He was making his way to a place where he could catch a moment's sight of the parade. In front of him walked a man, a patron of the hotel. The waiter did not know him. Passing thus one behing the other, they had nearly gained the angle of the passage near Fifth avenue and Forty-sixth street, when the patron drew a match and lighted a cigar or cigarette. He tossed the match aside. It was still blazing and fell into the folds of a lace curtain. In an instant the flilmsy fabric was ablaze and the flames shot to surrounding draperies. This, from all accounts, was the origin of the holocause in which many human beings perished and others were severely mangled, while helpless thousands looked on in wild horror.

The Loss.
The loss on the hotel is estimated at about $1,000,000. Several adjoining buildings were damaged considerably, but the loss on these is comparatively small. All the papers and books of the hotel are believed to have been saved. The loss on the contents of the building is almost complete. The salvage men managed to save $20,000 worth of paintings on the first floor of the hotel, but very little else was carried out. Many of the guests who lived at the Windsor lost valuable jewelry and bric-a-brac and furnishings, among them being F. F. FLOWER, a nephew of ex-Gov. FLOWER, who, among other things, lost a package of jewelry valued at $8,000.

Searching For The Remains.
Through the incessant rain today, their efforts hindered by choking smoke, more than 200 men sought, but with only half satisfying results, for the bodies of persons believed to have perished in yesterday's fire. Most of the time the smoke was so dense the workmen could scarcely see their hands before their faces and the heat was intense. Their efforts were concentrated on clearing away the debris, removing weak walls, drilling chimneys and other parts of the walls for blasting, and making the way safe for the men to dig the ruins for the bodies. No bodies were taken from the ruins today. The latest estimate tonight is sixteen dead, sixty-six missing and fifty-seven injured.
Several fire engines kept their stations all day. Explosions of gas punctuated the continual pumping of the engines. Countless thousands of spectators packed the surrounding thoroughfares all day, pressing as close to the scene of devastation as the restraining police lines permit. At intervals the lifting smoke showed fire engines puffing where rose two gaunt columns of masonry --all that remained standing of the hotel.

Dubuque Herald Iowa 1899-03-19