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Four lives were lost in r.n explosion which took place on the evening of August f> during a fire in the North-western grain elevator at Cool and West Water streets. Three of the dead are firemen, the body of another fireman ia thought to be buried in the ruina of the elevator. Fifty-one persons were injured by the explosion. Either the bursting of a boiler or the explosion of mill dirt caused the havoc. Dozens of firemen and passers-by were more or less cut and bruised by glass and by flying debris. The origin of the blaze is believed to have been in the vicinity of the boilerhouse. Granulated dust, as dry and inflammable as gunpowder, that had been piling up for years, formed ready food for the fire. It spread with great rapidity, and then came a terrific explosion, completing the work of scattering the fire throughout the entire structure, .lust as the firemen were getting into position for advantageous work, and nearly all the members of Engine Company 3 were mounting ladders and bringing lines of hose to play on the interior from the upper windows, there came a roar that could be heard for half a mile, the roof was raised high in the air, and the walls came down with a crash. The force of the explosion was so great that the eastern wall was hurled into the river, the western wall was tumbled down upon the heads of the unfortunate men below, and the roof was torn into fragments and distributed for blocks around. Every window in the vicinity of the elevator was shattered by the concussion, dozens of persons were struck by flying debris, and several small fires resulted. At Jefferson street and Carroll avenue, many blocks distant, great burning masses of wreckage fell upon four waggons loaded with hay and set them in flames.

The building was of composite construction, the lower portion being of brick and the upper part, frame, covered with a roof of corrugated iron. The explosion caused a perfect bombardment of tiling, bricks, and sheets of iron, almost at white heat, leaving little of the bnilding save a framework of wood and iron surrounding a great pile of blazing wheat. The explosion stunned for a moment the police and firemen, but they quickly rallied to help those who had been hurt. Dozens of men lay injured in the withering heat, some not seriously harmed and others in the throes of death. It was dangerous work to get them out, but it wa3 gallantly and quickly done, and all the slightly injured were removed. The dead were for a time left where they lay. No man could reach their bodies and live. The fire wa3 most difficult to control, as the elevator was surrounded by a number of tall frame buildings, which were continually catching fire. The loss is estimated at 300,000dol; fully insured.

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Bibliographic details

BIG FIRE AT CHICAGO., Issue 10423, 18 September 1897, Supplement

Word Count

BIG FIRE AT CHICAGO. Issue 10423, 18 September 1897, Supplement

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