Danbury, CT Fire, Feb 1890
DANBURY'S BIG BLAZE.
FOUR HUNDRED PEOPLE DRIVEN FROM THEIR HOMES BY FIRE.
DANBURY, Conn., Feb 2.----This city suffered the most disastrous fire in its history this morning. It consumed a half dozen large buildings and several minor structures in the very heart of the business district, Main and Liberty streets, and cleaned out many of the largest retain establishments, besides a half hundred or more offices and over four hundred people occupying tenements in the blocks. The total loss will be something over $300,000, the bulk of which falls on Charles Hull, representing the Hull estate.
The flames broke out shortly after midnight in the cellar of Sam Harris's clothing house, and gained headway so rapidly that in a half hour the firemen were unable to control them, and had to call on the citizens for aid. The fire worked from building to building with fearful rapidity and in an incredibly short time three large fame buildings fronting on Main-street, occupied by George R. Steven's art store, T. R. Hoyt & Co., grocers; Sam Harris, clothing; Fred Hart, jewelry, and Talant's gentlemen's furnishing store were ablaze. These were a part of the Hull estate.
Adjoining them on Main-street were two big brick buildings, one belonging to the Hull estate and another, the Judd Building, to Henry Burns. These were occupied on the ground floor by Hull & Rogers, hardware and house furnishings, the largest store in the city. Through them the fire swept. The heavy wall of the Judd Building prevented further spread in that direction.
It found opportunity to work back on Liberty-street, however. Two large frame structures, occupied by Hull & Rogers as carpet warerooms, were burned to the ground. In the rear and backing up against the Main-street buildings were frame tenement houses, which were entirely destroyed.
That there are no casualties to report is fortunate. The second floors of most of the buildings were occupied by offices and small business concerns, but in the other stories there were no less than 400 people living. These, awakened from sleep by the fire, were all able to get to the street in safety, but had no time to save personal property. Many of them are entirely penniless, having nothing but the night clothes they escaped in. When the fire was at its very height Charles Hamilton, a tenant of the Judd Building, was seen rushing wildly up and down. He had gone stark mad and was sent to the insane asylum.
A series of violent explosions added to the intense excitement among the spectators and homeless tenants. In the cellar of Hull & Rogers's store, which was the first to go, was stored a large quantity of gunpowder and cartridges. When the flames reached this there was a series of shocks that sent the brick walls tumbling down upon the adjoining frame structures. Many people were struck by the flying debris, but none seriously injured. Windows were shattered for 500 feet in either direction.
The Fire Department was entirely inadequate to the occasion, and the flames simply burned themselves out. What was yesterday as thriving a corner as there was in the city is to-day covered with nothing but blackened wreckage.
The loss is so variously divided that it will take some time to figure it out. Charles Hull owned all but one of the burned buildings. His loss on them is $125,000. He had them insured for $50,000. Henry Burns, who lost the Judd Block, valued it at $25,000. It was insured. Hull & Rogers lost $50,000 to $60,000 on stock, and had $40,000 of insurance. Other known losses are the Danbury One-Price Clothing House, $8,000; Talant's gentlemen's furnishing goods store, $5,000; Hoyt & Co., grocers, $2,000; Fred Hart, jeweler, $5,000; Stevens' art store, $1,000. Added to these are the losses of tenants above the ground floors, which range from a few hundred dollars to two and three thousand. So far as can be learned, few of these carried insurance.
The New York Times, New York, NY 3 Feb 1890
Transcribed by Linda Horton. Thank you, Linda!