12/23/10 1532 W - + 7 - 3 Chicago Stockyards Fire, December 1910


Yesterday's tragedy in Chicago, where a building collapse killed two firefighters, occurred 100 years to the day after 21 members of the Chicago Fire Department were killed when a six- story wall collapsed at the Union Stock Yards.

That was the greatest loss of life in the history of CFD, which has seen 658 firefighters and paramedics perish on duty. It was also the nation's largest loss of big-city firefighters until the events of September 11, 2001.

Two days earlier, the Chicago Sun-Times published a retrospective of the event. Read more about yesterday and the retrospectives at Fire Truck Blog. There's also excellent coverage of yesterday's events at Statter911.

Below is an account of the 1910 fire that appeared in the Muscatine Journal in Iowa,on December 22, 1910. It's from the GenDiasters site.

FIRE MARSHALL HORAN OF CHICAGO, AIDE, AND 22 FIREMEN PERISH IN THE FLAMES.

FIRE DESTROYS BUILDINGS OF MORRIS & CO. PLANT IN UNION STOCKYARDS.

LOSS NEAR $2,000,000.

EXPLOSION OF AMMONIA PIPE IS CAUSE OF TERRIBLE CONFLAGRATION -- WALLS OF BUILDING FALL CARRYING MANY DOWN TO DEATH.

HORAN AND AIDE LOST.

CHIEF MARSHAL AND ASSISTANT LEADING THEIR MEN, PERISH WHEN WALL TOPPLES OVER -- FIRE AT LAST CONTROLLED.

Bulletin.
Chicago, Ill., Dec. 22. -- Late in the day the announcement was made that the dead would not number over twenty-four, consisting of Fire Marshal HORAN, Second Assistant Fire MARSHAL BURROUGHS, nineteen city firemen, two private firemen of Morris & Company, and STEPHEN LEEN, aged 16, a yard clerk for the Chicago Junction railroad. Ten bodies have been recovered. It was erroneously stated earlier that the chief's body had been recovered. The fire is now under control.

Chicago, Ill., Dec. 22. -- Chief Fire Marshal HORAN, Assistant Chief BURROUGHS, Lieutenant FITZGERALD and nearly forty other firemen were killed, and a property loss of a million and a half dollars, resulted from the destruction of the meat warehouse of Morris & Co., by fire at the Union Stockyards this morning.

Entire Crews Among Dead.
It is now though that the dead may reach forty. The entire crews of Engine Companies 51 and 53 are said to be among the dead. In addition, six members of Company 29 and some of No. 48 were killed. The hope of the firemen and hundreds of admirers of Fire Marshal HORAN that the fire fighter and his men had not perished was practically lost when Battalion Chief LANCY told of seeing the marshal and BURROUGHS together with eighteen of twenty men go down beneath the falling wall.

Tells of Death of Firemen.
"Chief HORAN was in front of the pipemen," said LANCY, "and BURROUGHS a short distance behind him directing the work when the crash came. I know just where they are and are sure they had no chance of escape. Dozens of firemen saw the same situation and many of them ran to the pile, almost frantic, and began throwing bricks away with their hands. They were like so many coals of fire and any work of that sort was useless. I ordered them back to fighting the flames in the hope that the fire might be stopped in time to find a way to rescue the poor fellows we saw go down to what seemed certain death. I was determined to make every effort within human power to save the men, but the conditions of the the building made it suicide for the rest of us to try to enter it."

Explosion Starts It.
The fire started from an explosion of an ammonia pipe, and spread with such rapidity that the entire building was in flames almost on the instant. A general alarm brought all the available fire-fighting apparatus to the scene. Marshal HORAN arrived immediately and took up the task of directing his men. With Battalion Chief BURROUGHS he led the men to the east entrance of the building and the battle against the flames was taken up from beneath the heavy wooden canopy which hung menacingly above them.

Apparently not noticing their danger the firemen crowded beneath this death trap. Suddenly with the roar of an explosion the canopy and tumbling tons of bricks buried the chief of the department, together with more than a score of his aides. The firemen learning the fate of their chief and his men fought frantically to control the fire at the spot where the disaster occurred. It was hoped that the victims could be taken out and carried to the hospital but inquiry brought the information that such was not the case.

The men attacked the piles of red hot debris to rescue their comrades and dug with desperation with bare hands until ordered away by officers to stop the spread of flames which threatened the entire district.

A graphic story of the collapse of the east wall which carried the men down to death beneath the wood covering is told by Lieut. MACKEY, who was leading a company of firemen from the top of the canopy.

Escapes Were Miraculous.
MACKEY said he saw the walls bulge and immediately shouted a warning. At the same time he jumped from the platform himself and was followed immediately by ten or twelve of his men. The escapes of these were miraculous. "I was in charge of the firemen fighting the flames from the railroad tracks. I saw one man fall near where the men who were caught fell and catching hold of his leg dragged him on to the railroad tracks and saved him. Then my men and I rushed to save others, but our way was blocked by falling ruins and the clouds of dust and debris."

Fire Marshal's Body Recovered.
The first body taken from the ruins about 8 o'clock was that of GEORGE MURAWESKI, a pipeman of Company 49. Assistant Chief SEYFERLICH assumed supreme command, and under his direction the battle continued. At 9 o'clock the bodies of Captains COLLINS of Company 59 and DOYLE of Company 39 were taken from the ruins by the police. Half and hour later Chief HORAN'S body was recovered. At 10 o'clock the fire was not controlled and Acting Chief SEYFERLICH was alarmed at the situation. The fire spread to a three-story building 300 feet square almost adjoining the four-story structure in which the fire originated. In the second burning building there are a large number of ammonia pipes which are liable to explode.
The loss is now estimated at $1,500,000.

MRS. HORAN Prostrated.
Marshal HORAN was married six years ago. He is the father of four children, the youngest of whom is two years of age. The word of his death was kept from MRS. HORAN by the firemen, who notified her by telephone that he had met with an accident. Later it bacame evident that the chief was surely dead and that it would be better to let her know the truth.
MRS. HORAN swooned in her Ashland boulevard home and was unable further to continue the conversation.
HORAN assumed command of the fire department after the death of Marshall MUSHAM, who had succeeded CAMPION, who took up the reigns laid down by the veteran DENNIS SWEENIE.

Hunt For Bodies Begins.
A flood of water was poured on the pile of brick covering the ill-fated firemen and by 10:30 it was cool enough for the firemen to resume the hunt for their comrades.
As the recovered bodies were brought out, mangled, scorched, shapeless masses, the coroner's jury, which had been impannelled, forgot its duty of inquiry and joined with the feverish effort of hundreds of civilians who were endeavoring to lend a hand to the firemen.
Newspaper extras carried the news of the danger or death that had visited the firemen and relatives and friends came in throngs to the fire.
With the arrival of anxious friends came devices for clearing away the pile of smouldering wreckage. A wrecking engine of the Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railroad brought derrick, toppling a string of box cars into a ditch as it came. A road scraper attached to one of the derricks cables scooped up great masses of bricks, the scorched firemen having pushed the great scoop into the brick heap.

DEAD, MISSING AND INJURED IN BIG FIRE.
Chicago, Ill., Dec. 22. -- The known dead in the fire horror here today in which it is believed forty firemen lost their lives are:
Chief FIre Marshal JAMES HORAN.
Assistant Marshal WILLIAM J. BURROUGHS.
PATRICK E. COLLINS, captain of engine company No. 59.
DENNIS DOYLE, captain of engine company No. 39.
JOSEPH MURAWESKI, pipeman.
CHARLES MOORE, truckman.
STEPHEN LEEN, aged 16, yard clerk, Chicago Junction railway.

The Missing.
The missing are:
THOMAS O'CONNOR, pipeman.
JAMES FOSTER, pipeman.
JOSEPH OSBORNE, driver.
J. H. BEHRENS, driver.
NICHOLS CRANE, truckman.
CHARLES BERKERY, lieutenant.
FRANK WATERS.
CHARLES SWEENIE.
WILLIAM J. DAILEY.
PETER J. KILL.
WILLIAM T. WEBER.
JOHN F. DUBACH, lieutenant.
CHARLES COONEY.
JOHN G. LINK.
JOSEPH P. MULHERN.
FRANCIS P. EAGAN.
JOHN J. McLARY.
JAMES J. BANNON.
JOHN HEILFELT.
WILLIAM T. MURPHY.
The Injured.
The list of injured includes:
JOHN P. KASSENBACK, fatally.
EDWARD OEHLER, fatally.
JOHN O'LEARY, fatally.
MARTIN J. FITZGERALD, fatally.
ANTONE HELLAND.
JOHN CARNEY.
A. D. LANNON.
JOSEPH MACKEY.
JAMES McGRATH.
JOHN MILLER.
WILLIAM WALSH, lieutenant.
M. M. BOLLMAN.
EUGENE MILLER.
M. J. SANDERS, policeman.
JAMES HENDRICHS, policeman.





Very Sad day this past week. My heart goes out to the Families of the Chicago Fire Dept. My Great Grandfather was Lt. Joseph Mackey who fought the 1910 Union Stockyard Fire, is referenced in this article, and according to my Uncle and Mother was Chief Horan’s Driver.

God Bless All Firefighter’s and Police Officer’s who put their lives on the line every day for us!
Dan Cullinan (Email) - 12/25/10 - 13:57



  
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