Back-to-back-to-back blazes kept firefighters hopping

This week in history

120 years ago in 1903, headlines and story transcribed as originally published from a longer article in the Youngstown Vindicator:

“Gallant work of the fireman. Entire department called into action by the three fires last night. Three alarms turned in. Onarata & Co. and United Engineering Co. the heaviest losers — total loss estimated by Chief Loller at $12,000 ($416,000 in 2023 values), fully insured.

“The efficiency of the fire fighting force of the city was severely tested Friday night, and the men showed that they are capable of doing phenomenal work. The record made by the Enterprise Boiler Company fire of August 7, was equaled if not excelled by the accomplishments of last night.

“From 4:14 to 6:09, the department received three alarms, all of them fires with considerable property loss, and while working at the first fire, they were summoned to the second, and from the second to the greatest of the conflagrations, that at the plant of the United Engineering and Foundry Company, the former Lloyd Booth Plant on South Phelps Street.

“The first alarm was sent in from the Bonnell block, located at the corner of East Federal and Walnut Streets. The fire originated in the stable at the rear of the brick building, which was used by the wholesale fruit and grocery house of Onarata & Co. The stable was almost totally destroyed, and the fire communicated to the block through the rear windows. The barn contained several horses which were gotten out, but two large wagons, the harness, and considerable feed was destroyed.

“While the firemen were working at the Bonnell fire, an alarm was received from Box 71, and the chief, with the Central truck and Numbers 3 and 4 Companies, hurried to the residence of Mrs. Carpenter on Woodland Avenue. A defective flue had set fire to a one-story kitchen built at the rear of the residence. The kitchen was burning furiously when the apparatus reached the scene and some hard work saved the main building from destruction.

“While the firemen were engaged in putting the last touches to this blaze, the alarm from Box 17 was sounded. The chief then hurried to the Lloyd Booth Plant with the men, but it was some time before the hose was gathered up and the return over the Market Street Bridge was made as fast as the tired horses could come.

“When the firemen got to the works, the flames were shooting through the ventilators on the roof of the foundry, a building of wood construction. The fire was 50 feet from the ground and eating its way along the ventilator with great speed.

“In speaking of the work of the firemen this morning, Assistant Manager Harvey Kelly said: ‘It is a surprise to me that the firemen prevented the total destruction of the foundry building. The fire caught quickly and burned with rapidity, and hampered as the men were by having three fires at the same time, it is truly marvelous how well they worked. We are well pleased.’

“The firemen did not get into bed until after midnight, having a hard night’s work in fixing up the apparatus and caring for the horses. One of them said last night that he would draw his money with a clear conscience.”

• Compiled from the Youngstown Vindicator by Traci Manning, MVHS curator of education.


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