Spirit of the Times, Batavia, Genesee Co., NY

February 9, 1889

(06.24.02) Over a Million and a Half Dollars Loss, One Fireman Killed, Others Injured. A most disastrous fire broke out in Buffalo at 2:45 last Saturday morning, proving to be the most extensive one that has ever visited that city. The destruction of property and the area covered was something appalling. The fire raged with terrible fury for upwards of four hours, and in that time destroyed several large smaller structures. Quite a high wind prevailed at the time, which materially helped the progress of the flames. Flames were first seen breaking out from windows on the fourth floor of the five-story ROOT & KEATING building, at the southwest corner of CARROLL and WELLS streets. The fire quickly reached the top-story and roof, and also worked its way down to the lower stories. The building burned with the utmost rapidity, and was soon a blazing ruin.

Directly across Carroll street from the Root and Keating building, and fronting on SENECA street, was the five-story brick and iron stove warehouse of Sherman S. JEWITT & Co., supposed to be a fire-proof building. Also the new six-story candy manufactory of SIBLEY & HOLMWOOD. These two large structures were next attacked by the flames and the question of their destruction was only a matter of a few minutes. The heat was overpowering, and again and again were the firemen driven back.

The flames swirled across WELLS street from the Sibley & Holmwood building to the opposite corner of Seneca street, seizing upon the BROEZEL House, one of the most popular hotels in the city for commercial men. Although the guests and employes of the hotel had been promptly aroused, the progress of the fire was so rapid that there was great hurrying and consequent confusion. A great deal of personal property, however, was removed. In the meantime the flames had secured a firm hold of the rear portion of the building and swiftly swept through on every floor to Seneca street front. The loss on the hotel cannot be less than $160,000, and $50,000 on the furniture.


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From the Broezel House the fire extended steadily and rapidly along the east side of Seneca street, destroying several buildings valued at $220,000. At about 4:30 the flames attacked the upper story and roof of the large six-story business building on the south side of Carroll street, adjacent on the west to the Root & Keating block. The building was furnished throughout with automatic sprinklers, which were set at work promptly and held the flames at bay for some time, but slowly and surely they worked their way along down until this building was also a ruin.

It was reported that an explosion preceded the bursting out of the flames from the Root & Keating building. This is attributed to an explosion of celluloid in the button factory that occupied a portion of the building, and it is possible that this may explain the origin of the fire.

About noon a number of firemen were at work in the ruins of the rear of the ARLINGTON hotel when the western wall of the rear extension fell without any warning. Dominick R. MARION, of Engine 10, was buried beneath the ruins, and John MOST, foreman of Engine 9, was struck on the head by some of the bricks, but escaped dangerous injury. MARION's body has been recovered. The losses will doubtless exceed $2,000,000, chief among which are the following:

Root & Keating, $250,000;
their tenants, $200,000;
S.S. Jewitt & Co., $2000,000;
Broezel House, $160,000;
Sibley & Holmwood, $250,000;
Fowler & Son, $80,000;
S.F. Eagan, $40,000;
Sidney, Shepard, & Co., $50,000;
the Arlington Hotel, $40,000;
A.T. Kerr & Co., $30,000;
Strootman's building and tenants, $50,000;
loss on Exchange street, $75,000;
on north side of Seneca street, $200,000;
other losses, $150,000.

The scene of the disaster was visited by nearly one hundred Batavians during Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

* * submitted by Linda C. Schmidt



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