1903 - Fire In Brewery Barn
Stubborn Blaze Keeps Firemen Busy for Hours
Loss Will Be Fully $3000 - Great Crowd Out.
From Tuesday's Eagle.
By far the most serious conflagration with which the fire department has been forced to battle in several months, broke out last night shortly after 11 o'clock, in the large barn owned by the Berkshire Brewing association and located in the rear or the company's works on Columbus avenue.
For two hours the firemen valiantly fought the flames, but the large quantity of hay stored in the building had occasioned such a fierce blaze that before the department arrived, a goodly portion of the structure was consumed.
While the extent of the damage cannot be estimated at the present time, it is believed that the loss to the building will be about $2000 and the loss to the contents nearly $1000. The loss is fully covered by insurance through the J. M. Stevenson, F. F. Read and F. A. Cooley agencies.
The origin of the fire is a mystery, and while it is believed that the blaze started in the hay in the upper portion of the building. It is not known just what occasioned it. By many it is believed that the work was that of tramps who had gained entrance to the building and had crept into the hay for a night's repose.
Those advancing such a theory believe that the "hoboes" in lighting a pipe, unconsciously dropped a lighted match into the hay. The incendiary theory has also been advanced. The proprietors and employes of the brewery, however, are inclined to believe that the fire started from electric light wires in the upper portion of the building, the insulation having worn off, making it very easy for a spark to be communicated with the hay.
Shortly after 11 o'clock Henry Feige the night watchman, while making his rounds, detected the odor of smoke, and investigating found the flames issuing from the windows in the upper story of the barn.
Box 32 was at once rung in, and the brewery employes residing nearby were summoned. The necessity for immediate action was evident, as in the barn were 25 horses with harnesses, etc., in addition to a large quantity of hay and oats.
When the doors of the barn were broken open, the horses' stalls were filled with smoke while the flames raged above but too well told of the urgency of quick action. The brewery employes worked with a will, and soon the 25 horses had been rescued and the harness also had been saved. That all the horses were safely taken out of the building is regarded as remarkable, as the animals were all securely tied in their stalls. Despite the usual tendency of horses, however, when terrified, to rush into the flames, but little difficulty was experienced in leading them from the blazing building.
The firemen were quick to respond to the alarm call, and with the one-piece apparatus belonging to the brewery, several streams were soon playing upon the flames which were raging so furiously that it was feared the adjoining sheds and main office building would also take fire. From the time the alarm was rung in until 1:40 o'clock, the firemen fought before the blaze was placed under control. It was also found necessary to keep firemen playing a hose on the structure all night, in order to avoid any possibility of further outbreak.
The barn, which was erected about eight years ago, was a two story structure, 25x80 feet in dimension. The lower portion is of brick, and the upper portion of wood. Adjoining the building is a shed which leads to the main office. The efforts of the firemen in saving this shed is most commendable, for had this shed taken fire, it is the opinion of the proprietors of the brewery the flames would have communicated to the office building, a wooden structure facing on Columbus avenue.
Among the contents of the building which were destroyed, were about 20 tons of hay and 500 bushels of oats.
The crowd which attended the fire was the largest seen at a midnight conflagration since the burning down of the old Burbank block on North street several years ago. With the ringing in of box 32, and the carmine coloring of the sky, it was generally believed that the main brewery building was afire, and people, despite the lateness of hour, swarmed the main streets in all manner of abbreviated attire. The sky was a fire red, which could plainly be seen as far away as Dalton. The expectation of the crowd to witness a goodly sized conflagration was fully realized and when daybreak dawned this morning, there were still a number, who despite the fact that they had been there all night, watched the firemen continue their work with the chemicals, on the smouldering ruins.
Whether the building will be torn down and re-built, has not yet been decided by Messrs. Gimlich & White. The brick walls and the lower floors of the barn remain intact, but the entire upper portion of the building is in ruins.
The Berkshire County Eagle
Wed., August 5, 1903
Linden Slope Section of Pittsfield Cemetery Gail and I planted flowers... (6/29/2010)
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Massachusetts, State Vital Records, 1841-1920 Deaths Deaths, 1917, vol. 0001
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