Milwaukee, WI Davidson Theatre Fire, Apr 1894
PIT OF DEATH IN A THEATRE.
THE DAVIDSON IN MILWAUKEE, DESTROYED TODAY.
NINE FIREMEN LOSE THEIR LIVES.
TWENTY CRASH THROUGH THE CEILING TO THE BASEMENT AND THE FALLING ROOF BURIES THEM FROM VIEW -- LIEUTENANT REESE THROWN FROM AN AERIAL LADDER TO THE PAVEMENT AND HIS BRAINS SPATTER THE WALK.
Milwaukee, April 9. -- Nine lives paid tribute to flames in the Davidson Theatre this morning.
The list of dead follows:
ARCHIE CAMPBELL, captain of the fire tug Foley, taken out dead; fell from the upper part of theatre, lives at 71 Twenty-seventh Street.
Lieutenant ALLIE REESE, of No. 3, fell from ladder in the rear of the theatre; died on the way to hospital, body taken to the morgue.
FREDERICK KROESSCHMUER, chemical No. 8 taken from the ruins dead, aged about thirty-five years residence 616 Fourth Ave.
AUGUST JANSSEN, assistant chief of the fire department, and brother of Chief Janssen of the police department, married, lived at 265 Eighth Street.
THOMAS MORGAN, hose company 1; single man, lived at department headquarters.
GEORGE JANSSEN, truck No. 2, lived at 200 Grove Street.
FRANK McGURK, acting captain of engine company No. 14, married, lived at 397 Park Street.
JAMES FREEMAN, No. 4, lived at 57 Fifth Street.
Lieutenant JOHN T. FARRELL, of Engine No. 1.
Two or three bodies are still in the ruins.
The following went down with the roof and were rescued:
Lieutenant CURRAN, of Company No. 1, Central Fire Station, probably fatally injured.
FRED MARSH, Company No. 5, foot crushed.
JOHN YEO, pipeman, No. 4, badly burned and back hurt.
All of the dead were fireman. Soon after the department arrived a ladder run up from the hotel slipped and OLLIE REESE, a fireman, was precipitated to the ground and killed. He was the first to die, but it seemed hardly ten minutes later that seven lives were suffered out in an instant.
Flames were seen to shoot from the roof at the rear end of the theatre building at 4:20, and in an instant almost the entire roof was ablaze. The fire seemed to have enveloped the top of the building.
The alarm of fire was quickly turned in and in a very short time several engines were at the scene, but the seat of the fire could not be easily located.
A portion of the building is occupied by the Davidson Hotel, and although the fire at first was not near any of the sleeping apartments, the guests were all aroused. Messengers were sent to awaken everybody and in a few minutes men, women and children came tumbling down the stairs arrayed for the most part in such clothes as they could seize in their hasty flight.
There were probably fifty or seventy-five guests in the hotel, among them twelve dwarfs of the Lilliputian company which had been playing at the Davidson and several members of the Nellie McHenry company, playing at the Bijou.
In a very short time every room in the house was empty. The elevators were kept busy in bringing down the guests who saw that there was plenty of time to get out, and waited to dress partially at least and collect some of their valuables. All were assured there was not the slightest danger as the fire was in the roof, over the theatre part of the building and the hotel building is also fireproof. Many soon went back to their rooms to collect their belongings, and the panic, so far as the guests was soon over.
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