Houston, TX Business Fire, May 1912
FLAMES LICK UP HOUSTON BLOCK.
LOSS $1,000,000 -- FIRE STARTING IN STOWERS SEVEN-STORY SKYSCRAPER SPREADS WITH RAPIDITY TO OTHER BUILDINGS ALONG MAIN STREET.
Houston, Tex., May 19. -- Fire broke out in the upper Main Street business district shortly before 4 o'clock this morning, and by 7 o'clock had caused a loss approximately of $1,000,000.
The flames organized in the Stowers Building, a large seven-story structure owned by H. Masterson, and occupied by the Stowers Furniture Company and the A. Lipper Millinery Establishment.
Firemen are of the opinion that the cause was due to defective wiring, aided by overheated wires, and that it started in the upper floor, of the Lipper establishment.
The alarm was turned in when a puff of smoke was seen issuing from an upper story. It was discovered by a linotype operator as he was going home after finishing his night's work.
The response of the firemen was quick, but when they arrived the building was aflame from top to bottom and tongues of fire were leaping out of every window. The rear wall of the building fell with a resounding roar within a few minutes after the firemen arrived on the scene, indicating that the flames spread very quickly, due to the character of the construction of the building (mill construction and brick), aided by the inflammable nature of the stock of goods.
For two hours the building was a raging furnace and the heat was so intense that it was not possible for the firemen to get near. However, several streams were soon playing from every vantage point.
Light and telephone wires began to crackle and fall, and with them their pole supports, and the streets about the building and the adjoining streets were soon networks of fallen and hanging wires.
Wall after wall fell with a roar that could be heard for many blocks, while the flames, lit up the heavens and made it as light almost as day covering a wide area of the city.
This, with the clanging of fire bells, as general alarm after general alarm was turned in, the rattle of wagons, the yelling of commands by the firemen, the incessant tooting of auto horns, produced a scene like unto Dante's Inferno. And amid it all the people began to swarm from every direction.
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