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Pittsburgh, PA Whiskey Explosion, Feb 1898


Fire at Pittsburg Attended With Disastrous Results.


How Many Will Not be Known Until the Debris is Cleared Away


Several Others Badly Injured - Victims Were Caught by the Falling Walls When the Explosion Occurred - One Man Killed by the Falling of Electric Light Wires - Two Million Dollars' Worth of Property Destroyed Before the Fire Was Under Control - List of the Known Dead - Some of the Heaviest Losers.

Pittsburg, Feb. 9. - At 8:20 to-night fire started in the large three-story cold storage house of the Chautauqua Lake Ice company, occupying a block from Twelfth to Thirteenth streets between Pike street and Mulberry, and before the flames were subdued at 1:15 a. m. nearly two million dollars worth of property had been destroyed, at least six lives lost and many people badly injured. The fire, in point of fatalities, is the most serious that Pittsburg has had in years. The department repsonded quickly and a general alarm was sent in. Other alarms quickly followed and at midnight the Allegheny department was called on for help.

The origin of the fire is unknown. The vicinity is composed of a mixture of huge warehouses and many private residences, the inhabitants of which fled in alarm, carrying with them as much portable household goods as they possessed.

There were frequent explosions, which greatly added to the consternation and alarm. The streets were completedly blocked with people and their goods interfered with the firemen, who were already handicapped in their efforts to control the flames, on account of windows anddoors of the burning buildings being strongly barred to heavy iron shutters.

Explosions of Whisky.

At 11:15 p. m. an explosion of whisky stored in the warehouse occurred, blowing out the Mulberry alley wall with terrible results at the time the firemen, policement, newspaper men and others crowded the street nearby and the alley. Many were caught in the falling walls. How many will not be known until the debris is cleared away. Many people were injured by flying bricks and beams and all the ambulances and patrol wagons of the city were called into service. Telegraph, telephone and electric light wires at the corner of Thirteenth and Pennsylvania streets fell shortly after the explosion and killed an unknown man.

Just after the explosion the large warehouse of W. A. Hoverler & Co., situated on Pike street, directly opposite the Chautauqua company's building, was ablaze and in a short time was beyond hope of saving.

At about 1:15 the fire was gotten under control and no further spread is expected. The two large buildings are a total wreck and the loss cannot be much less than a million dollars.

The Killed and Injured.

At 2 a. m. there are six dead at the morgue, only five of whom have been identified. The identified dead are:

A. J. BERRY, lieutenant of police.
WM. SCOTT, Jr, son of Wm. Scott, president of the Chautauqua Ice company.
MRS. SIFE, aged 50.
STANLEY SIFE, aged 25.

JOHN SCOTT, a brother of William, is missing and is supposed to be under the debris.

Amonth the seriously injured are: Capt. J. A. Brown, building inspector, both legs broken; Owen K. Felder, compound fracture of right leg; William Fleming, squeezed by falling rafters, may die.

The following is the best list of losses obtainable to-night: Hoverter Storage company, building and contents, $600,000; Chautauqua Ice company, $150,000; Union Storage company, $175,000.

Some of the heaviest individual losers who had consignments in the warehouse are: The Economy Distilling company, 8,000 barrels of whisky, worth $750,000; Monongahela Textile Textile [sic] company, wool dealers,125,000 pounds of wool; Collins Cigar company, 25 carloads of tobacco; W. H. Williams, commission merchant, 20 carloads of sugar.

The Butte Weekly Miner, Butte, MT 10 Feb 1898

History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania 1889 Read it online

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History of Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania 1886 Read it online

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article | by Dr. Radut