Little Rock, AR Insane Asylum Fire, Feb 1890

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Little Rock AR  State Insane Asylum Burned 2.jpg Little Rock AR  State Insane Asylum Burned.jpg

AN INSANE ASYLUM ON FIRE.

THE INMATES ALL SAVED BY PROMPT ACTION BY THE KEEPERS.

Little Rock, Ark., Feb. 16. -- At 3 o'clock this morning fire broke out in the boiler room of the insane asylum near this place and spread rapidly, communicating with the drying room of the laundry, whence it communicated with the hot-air passages, which run all over the building. There were 75,000 gallons of water in the attic tanks, but owing to the destruction of the boiler room the pumps could not work, and only hose could be used. For a time it seemed as if the entire building would be burned.
There are nearly five hundred patients, all of whom were removed from the different wards to the first floor preparatory to taking them from the asylum. During the removal a scene of pandemonium reigned, the patients screaming, cursing, and sobbing with terror as the keepers hustled them from floor to floor until they were in comparative safety. Meanwhile the water gave out, and only the timely arrival of the fire engines and hose from this place prevented the complete destruction of the building. One wing, including the boiler toom, pump room, engine house, laundry dry house, kitchen, bathrooms, and pantries, was destroyed, entailing a loss of $30,000 or $40,000. There is no insurance, the last Legislature having failed to appropriate money for the purpose. The building cost $300,000.
That there was no loss of life is something marvelous. The fourteen male and female employes hgad a narrow escape, and lost all their clothing and personal effects. The patients are being fed today in the open air. A meeting of the Board of Directors was held this morning, and it was determined to rebuild the burned portion, the work to commence immediately. The origin of the fire is unknown.

The New York Times New York 1890-02-17