11/11/08 349 W - + 12 - 11 Fire at Camp Russell

Speaking of soldiers, this story appeared in the Raleigh News on September 14, 1873: At ten o'clock last night the Metropolitan Hall bell sounded the fire alarm for Eastern Ward. The fire companies, Rescue, Victor, Hook and Ladder, and Bucket were promptly out, and all but the Rescue reached the scene of the fire, Camp Russell, soon after the alarm. The Rescue [engine] halted at the corner of Hargett and Person streets, as it was known by the location of the fire, that water was no in reach and consequently the engine could not be used. [Members of the Rescue Fire Company, however, continued to the fire.]

The fire was found to be on the officer's row of buildings in the house of Lieutenant Derussy which caught from the kitchen. Lieutenant Derussy and his family (wife and child) were asleep at the time, and it is not known how the fire originated, but reasonably supposed to be accidental. With the aid of the troops, all the furniture was saved, and the only loss sustained was the building, which with the damaged caused by the removal of the furniture will not amount to over $800 or $1000. Had the slightest wind been blowing at the time it would have been next to an impossibility to prevent a general conflagration of the entire barracks, but fortunately it was a dead calm.

Camp Russell was located at the present-day intersection of New Bern Avenue and Tarboro Road, which was also the site of the first State Fair. A second Camp Russell, a decade later, was established at the second Fairgrounds site west of Raleigh. In 1873, the city's fire apparatus was all hand-pulled. The distance from Fayetteville Street to Camp Russell was nearly a mile. The newspaper does not specify if the Victor hand engine, the Bucket truck, or the Hook and Ladder truck were pulled to the scene. That's a long run on foot!

Soldiers from the camp had aided the Raleigh Fire Department in the past. On January 3, 1873, they assisted firefighters when a stable and two houses on Wilmington Street burned.

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