New York, NY Greenwich Ave Factory Fire, Jan 1911

FIREMEN CAUGHT IN A BACK DRAUGHT

Hair and Skin Burned Off While High on a Fire Escape of a Greenwich Avenue Factory

HOSE THROUGH A SICK ROOM

Lieut. Abbott's Mother, Though Dying, Consents to Its Use---St. Vincent's Hospital Patients Alarmed.

Crouched beneath clouds of heavy smoke and flames which poured from the windows, a dozen firemen stood at midnight last night on a fire escape on the third floor of the five-story factory building at 61 to 71 Greenwich Avenue, opposite St. Vincent's Hospital. As the water, at their signal, leaped through the lines of hose they held, the smoke and flames were driven back, and for a moment the fire escape was cleared of danger.

Then there came a sudden back draught. Out from the window leaped the fire again, this time with renewed vigor. The flames beat in the faces of the men on the escape, and they dropped flat, their hair and eyebrows burned off and the faces of several stripped of skin. But the men at the nozzles, although they fell with the rest, kept their grips on the squirming hose, and the water poured through the windows, and the fire was driven back once more.

From the sidewalk the back draught had been seen, and scores of firemen were springing up the ladders to the relief of their comrades. They took the places of the burned men, while others helped the victims to the street and into the hospital.

There Sister Mary Isadore, the Mother Superior, already had sent the physicians and nurses running through the wards, and the 400 patients, at first frightened by the smoke which sifted through the closed windows, had been reassured and were calm. In the mergency[sic] ward downstairs Dr. McNeil dressed the wounds of the firemen as they were brought in.

Fireman George Kitchen of Engine 72 was found to be the worst burned, and he was placed in a ward. His whole face was burned cleaned of skin, and his hair was burned off. Fireman Thomas Ward of Engine 24 was badly burned, too, but he was able to go home.

Firemen Murphy, Short, Craven, and Sullivan of Engine 24 were the other victims on the fire escape, and they all had their wounds dressed and went back to their quarters.

The fie whic[sic] started on the fourth floor of the building in the quarters of Peter H. Reilly, a wall-paper manufacturer, mushroomed out to the floor below, and that above, the upper floor being used by Rothacker & Schweitzer, printers. The ink and paper stock on the top floor made good fuel for the flames, which burned their way rapidly to the roof.

Battalion Chief Ross turned in a second alarm as soon as he reached the scene, and Fire Chief Croker, who responded, ordered a water tower into place in Perry Street, behind the burning building. In this street, at No.3, live Lieut. Abbott of Engine 30 and his mother, now ill, and said to be dying.

To combat the factory fire, Chief Croker decided that a line of hose must be carried through the Abbott home, and , knowing the serious condition of Mrs. Abbott, he sent for Lieut. Abbott to care for his mother. Mrs. Abbott appreciated the necessity that brought the firemen into her home, however, and before her son arrived sent word that they were to pay no attention to her illness, but to fight the blaze as they saw it.

The fire was got under control after half an hour's work, and the firemen estimated the damage then at $50,000. They could not learn how the blaze started.

The New York Times, New York, NY 6 Jan 1911