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The Voice of the Charmer.…


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FATAL FIRE IN LONDON. NINE LIVES LOST. I In the heart of the City of London, and within 300 yards of the chief City fire-station, a ware- house of six floors was partially destroyed on Monday evening and eight young women and a boy lost their lives. The scene of the fire is one of the loftiest ware- houses in Queen Victoria-street, No. 67, which is close to the Mansion-house Station of the Dis- i trict Railway, and is used as workshops, offices, and stores by the General Electric Lighting Co., which also occupies the next door warehouse. The building in which the fire broke out is live floors high and has a frontage of about 20 yards. In the upper floors, and chiefly on the fourth and fifth floors, a number of girls were employed. Nothing wrong was noticed in the place until five o'clock, when a cry of "Fire" was raised, and the place suddenly became filled with densely suffocating smoke. The windows of the extreme top floor were thrown open and several young women appeared there, shouting loudly for sistance. Immediately afterwards tongues of J flame shot out of the fourth floor. The nearest fire brigade station is that in Watling-street- At ten minutes past five o'clock a man rushed into this place, which is not 300 yards from the scene of the fire, and told the firemen that a warehouse was alight in Queen Victoria-street. The duty men instantly ran out with the escape which stands outside the station, and the steamer was turned out. As it was leaving the station the j fire-alarm signal from St. Paul's-churchyard rang into the station. The first escape was too short by a few feet to reach the upper floor of the ware- house where the girls were, and Major Fox, the chief officer of the London Salvage Corps, sug- gested that the scaling ladders of his tran should be added to the escape. Ready volunteers as- sisted the brigade in holding tarpaulins, into which many of the girls jumped before the fire- escapes could be got into position. Among those who jumped into the street several were injured. By this time the telephone had bought up the Whitecross and Holborn Brigades, followed quickly by the engines and long ladders from the Soaihwark headquarters, Bishopsgate, and Whitefriars. Firemen and Salvage Corps men joined in the task, and several girls, nearly all unconscious, and some partly suffocated, were brought to the ground. They were removed to buildings on the opposite side of Queen Victoria- street, and efforts were made by means of artifi- cial respiration to bring them to life. In one case the firemen continued to endeavour to re- store animation for two hours, but this was in vain, and the girl, whose name was Mabel Amos, of Chapman-street, St. George's-in-the-East, was declared at the end of that time by the medical men present to be dead. Four girls were re- moved to St. Bartholomew's Hospital. In the meantime the fire was assuming a fiercer aspect every moment, in spite of the fact that steamers and hydrants were throwing great quan- tities of water into the place. Three minutes after the nrnt call, the code signal "Brigade call" had been telephoned all over London, and a great force of steamers and men had assembled at the scene. Captain Wells, the chief officer, was one of the first to arrive, and under his personal su- pervision the steamers were set to work at every point of vantage in Queen Victoria-street and Cannon-street. At this time such a very fierce fire was raging in the third, fourth, and fifth floors of the place that it was absolutely im- possible to effect an entrance. No sound or sign had been heard from the girls who were on the fourth floor, and it was thought that everybody had been accounted for. Presently, however, rumours began to spread that a number of girls were missing,, As soon as it was possible to enter the place, tixe firemen proceeded to search the partly burnt-out floors, and made the discovery that at lea.st half-a-dozen charred bodies were amongst the ruins. A little later it was found that eight girls and one boy were dead. Vans were taken to the scene, and the remains were removed to the mortuary in Golden-square. The nows of the disaster was telephoned offi- cially by Captain Wells to the directing autho- rities of the brigade at Southwark in ""the fol- lowing terms :—"Stop for Queen Victoria-stv-eet, City; it has been a building of six floors, 70ft. by 50ft. in dimensions, used as electrical en- gineers' workshops, offices, and stores; three upper floors and the contents severely damaged gineers' workshops, offices, and stores; three upper floors and the contents severely damaged by fire, and several persons burnt to death and outers injured by jumping from the sixth floor windows steamers and hydrants been at work. At 8.45 Captain Wells despatched the following message from the fire: -"Message from the Chief Officer from the fire in Queen Victoria-street, City eight bodies have been recovered from the fourth floor-aiie boy and seven females one female died after rescue from the fourth floor window there are seven cases in hospital; one doubtful of recovery." The following are the ascertained names of per- sons fatally injured:—Chapman (boy) Mansell, Elliott, Hastie, Chambers, Amos, and Garrett, all girls. The names of the seven people in hos- pital am Thompson, Ambrose, Keete, N. Jones, Johnson, Morris, girls and John Padgett. One of the most exciting incidents in connec- tion with the fire was the rescue of two women by Station-officer West. Assistant-Superinten- dent Hillman, of the London Salvage Corps, and two other members of the corps named Ball and Shepherd. After climbing to the roof of No. 69. the men procured an electric cable, and West was lowered from the parapet of the roof on to the top of the fire-escape. By this means he entered the fourth floor and rescued two of the women, who were taken safely to the ground. He was afterwards hauled back by means of the cable. WHAT AN EYE-WITXESS SAYS. pt A City gentleman, whose offices are near the scene of the fire, and who witnessed every incident from the street below, gave to a repre- sentative of the "Daily Telegraph" a graphic description "I was just starting homewards," he said, "when I saw smoke coming from some of the upper windows of the General Electric Lighting Company's building. Evidently the alarm had already been given, for a moment later the first fire-escape was drawn up. A man was climbing hurriedly up the steps of the escape. I took him to be a civilian at any rate he wore no helmet, and if he was in the firemen's uniform I did not notice him in the excitement of the moment. Up, up, up he could be heard shouting as the escape was reared against tne wall. "High up in the building we could see from the street white faces at the windows. At that time there was no flame that I had noticed. The smoke was coming out of the windows of the floor below where the girls were, and it passed up to them. Quickly enough the ladders of the escape were extended, but to everyone's dismay they fell quite ten or fifteen feet short of where the girls were anxiously awaiting rescue, 'xnat short fire-escape was the cause of all the loss of life. It is disgraceful that the Fire Brigade I in the City should be equipped with such in- adequate tools. "First I saw a young fellow flying through the air, not where the girls were, but at the end of the building. He had jumped from a window, and had a fearful fall, I should think some 50ft. or 60ft. I don't know how he fell, or whether -he was killed or not, but from the thud I don't I think he alighted on the pavement. While the escape was being reared some bystanders had torn a tarpaulin from a van standing near, and dragged it to the front of the burning premises. < Up, up!' I still heard the man on the fire- escape shouting, but the appeal was quite use- less. No efforts could make the short escape of any service. What happened in those brief terrible moments in the room above one can painfully realise. The group of girls had become panic-stricken on finding, that the firemen with this short escape were powerless to save them, and one first took the desperate leap from the window into the street. "The whole thing was too awful to describe. The other girls, mad with panic, followed like- I hardly know what to say like a flock of sheep. They jumped immediately one after the other, if not together. The tarpaulin was spread below, but which among them reached it I do not know. It was a fearful fall, some 50ft. or 60ft., I should say at a guess. We in the street could see the poor creatures turn in the air as they descended. So fast they came one after the other I that certainly it must have been impossible to clear the tarpaulin of one before smother waa down. "All this, remember, took place in a minute or so. You may guess that the excitement was most intense. A bigger fire-escape did come up, but it was some time-it seemed to be quite ten minutes-before it was put to use. Some people who were standing near me thought they saw a head at a window-sill. We then shouted out to the firemen and police There's somebody at No. 4 window l' The escape was brought to the window, but still only just reached it. "Already some firemen had got on to a roof adjoining. One of them grasped a rope, and with rare pluck—it was so high from the ground —allowed himself to be swung into the window, and we lost him for a moment. Then he appeared with the unconscious form of a girl in his arms, and a great shout went up from the street. In a moment he had gained the escape, and bearing his burden—living or dead we could not tell, but it seemed lifeless-came to the ground. "A second fireman had grasped the rope as soon as the first had relinquished it, and he, too, without any to-do, had swung himself into the window, from which he emerged carrying the limp form of a second girl-really she looked hKS a child. Amid all the excitement the crowd did not forget to lustily cheer this rescue as well. "Even then all was not over. Immediately after, at an upper window of a house facing the building on fire, a man appeared, who was fran- tically shouting that he could see some people at the window next that from which the rescues had been effected. The crowd below shouted and yelled to attract the attention of the firemen, and the big escape was moved up. I could see the firemen climbing the rungs as hard as they could go. One man was soon at the top, but just as he was about to reach the sill a mass of fire burst out of the window, and in a moment the whole place was ablaze. If anyone was actually on that floor they must have been overwhelmed, for nothing could save them. The firemen per- severed, but were beaten back and compelled to descend. "It was simply awful. I don't wish to say a word against the firemen, who worked like bricks, but they could not do anything with the tools they had. I heard a number of Americans make some very disparaging remarks about our toy fire-engines,' and small wonder. If only the first escape had been long enough, all the girls who jumped might have been brought down safely, for they were in no immediate danger— not that I would disparage their pluck in making the leap. "When the larger escape did arrive the hose could only be got up it with great difficulty, as it was not long enough to give a convenient slope. Then there was certainly one burst in it, and the water swished against the walls, flying back into the street, so the force of delivery from the nozzle was weakened, and there was some delay before the jets reached the height required. "I do not think there ought to be a fire-escape in the City that is not capable of reaching a fifth-floor window, and I hope the necessity of providing better escapes will be one of the lessons learnt from this terrible fire." THE TENTH DEATH. Another fatality has to be added to the fearful death-roll of the fire in Queen Victoria-street, London, the latest victim being Arthur Paget, who jumped from the fifth floor of the burning building and fractured his sknll. Commander Wells stated to a representative of the "Daily Telegraph that he had given no explanation of the disaster, and he declined to advance any theories on the sub- ject. Many questions with regard to the catas- trophe were put at Tuesday's meeting of the London County Council, but the chairman of the Fire Brigade Committee requested that most of them should be postponed for a week. He read, however, a brief provisional report by Commander Wells. The bodies of the nine young girls lying at the mortuary in Golden-square are terribly burned, and in one case—that of Miss Amor, aged twenty- one, of Forest-gate, who is missing, the father who saw the remains was lyiable to say for certain that they were those of his daughter. The corrected list of the identified dead is: 1. Phyllis Elliott, 14, 105, Daubeney-road, Clap- ton-park. 2. Lily Mansell, 16, 29. Collier-road, Brixton. 3. J. G. Hastie, 15, 39, Brunswick-road, Camber- well. 4. Mabel Amos, 17, 26, Lower Clapham-street, St. George's, E. 5. Gladys Chambers, 82, Ashenden-road, Clap- ton. 6. Mabel Garrett, 16, Linnell-road, Camberwell. 7. Ada Steel, 15, Jessamine-terrace, St. Alban's- avenue, East Ham. 8. Violet Johnson. 128, Lower Park-road, Peck- ham and 9. Miss Amor (?), 21, of Forest-gate. The tenth death occurred about four hours after admission to St. Bartholomew's Hospital, that of 10. Arthur Paget, Queen's-road, Lower Edmon- ton, the skull of the deceased having been fractured, and other injuries sustained in his jump from the fifth floor. In addition to these there were six injured cases I detained at the hospital in Smithfield on Tuesday night; but, with one exception. the patients were doing satisfactorily, their injuries being cuts and wounds. The girl Alice Morris, 14. was not so well as the other four, viz., Emily Ambrose, 15; Norah Jones, 14 Dora Cuher, 15 Alice Thomp- son, 15. Emily Johnson had been discharged. 9




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