Friday, November 11, 2016

The Chicago Fire of 1894.

Chicago, Aug. 1, 1894 - Flames tonight destroyed more property, and in a shorter space of time, than any fire in Chicago since the big conflagration of 1871. Over $3,000,000 worth of buildings, lumber, electrical apparatus, cars, car wheels, castings, stoves, patterns, and other material were consumed in a blazing furnace of over half a square mile in less than three hours' time.
The fire was in what was known as the lumber district. The territory burned over was bounded by Ashland Avenue on the East, the south branch of the Chicago River on the South, Blue Island Avenue on the North, and Roby Street (Damen Avenue) on the West. The fire was the worst the department has been called on to fight in the last twenty-two years.

Three Million Dollars ($27,628,269 today) - Worth of Property Destroyed. One Boy Dead and Several Firemen Severely Injured-Siemens & Holske, Electric Supplies; the Wells & French Company; Car Builders; Perley, Lowe & Co. and the S.K. Martin Lumber Company, Lumber Dealers, are the Largest Losers.

There were many casualties among the firemen and spectators. The only death, as far as known, was that of a boy who fell from a lumber pile in a river slip and was drowned. 

Among the firemen injured were the following: 
  1. JAMES CONNORS, assistant engineer; blown from a lumber pile; cut and badly bruised; taken home.
  2. FLAHERTY, pipe man, seriously burned; taken to the hospital.
  3. McGANN, Lieut., badly burned; taken to hospital.
  4. MUSSMAN, Assistant Marshal, blown by the gale from the fire-boat "Geyser" into the river; cut and bruised; continued on duty.
  5. J.P. PHELAN, burned; removed to the county hospital. 
The firms whose property was destroyed up to 10 o'clock and the estimated losses are as follows: 
  • Siemens & Halske Electric Company of America, manufacturers of dynamos, motors, and electric machines of all kinds 1166 to 1182 Wood Street, works completely destroyed; loss, $800,000; well insured.
  • Wells, French & Co., manufacturers of car wheels, freight and refrigerator, and street cars, works from Wood to Paulina Street destroyed, including south casting foundry, wheel foundry, patterns, freight cars and lumber; loss, $300,000.
  • Perley, Lowe & Co., lumber dealers, yards, adjoining Wells, French & Co.'s foundry, 15,000,000 feet of lumber, chiefly soft pine, destroyed; loss $300,000. Office building saved.
  • S.K. Martin Lumber Company, Blue Island Avenue and Lincoln Street, known as the largest lumber yards in the country, 35,000,000 feet of lumber and the offices consumed; loss, $700,000.
  • R.F. Conwar, cedar posts and blocks, mill, and wagons almost completely destroyed; loss, $150,000.
  • Berber Asphalt Company, Paulina Street and the river; asphalt stock, two-story brick building, and machinery, destroyed; loss $150,000; nothing left.
  • Chicago Stove Works, addition to main foundry destroyed, including patterns and stock in an advanced state; loss, $250,000.
  • Longley, Lowe & Co., lumberyards, Wood Street; loss $100,000.
  • Shoemaker & Higby, lumber yards, Paulina Street and Blue Island Avenue, one quarter saved; loss $100,000.
  • Keystone Lumber Company, Robey Street and Blue Island Avenue; yards partly destroyed; loss $150,000.
  • Edward Hines Lumber Company, Robey Street, south of Blue Island Avenue; yards destroyed; loss $200,000.
  • Wakefield Rattan Company, 1187 South Robey Street, works destroyed; loss $75,000.
  • Four frame dwellings occupied by the employees of the burned-out firm inside the fire-swept district; loss, including contents $10,000.
  • One fire engine, a dozen lengths of hose, and much pipe burned; loss, $5,000.The
  • Griffith's Machine Company, Lincoln Street and Blue Island Avenue; factory destroyed; loss, $50,000.The
The total insurance will probably not exceed half the amount of the losses.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

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