Pair Rescued in Block Fire Face Charges

by Laurel | November 10th, 2014

20 August 1956

Location of Germania Park and Germania Tenements Pink Colored Buildings Below  Germania Mills Lettering 1911

Location of Germania Park and Germania Tenements
Pink Colored Buildings Below Germania Mills Lettering

Taken From Second Floor

Walter Yelle, 34, who gave Park St. as his address, known by police to be a resident of of Easthampton, and Dorothy Kennedy, 38, of 97 High St., were arrested before noon by patrolmen Gustave Kuezel and John E. Sullivan and brought to police headquarters where the adultrry complaints were brought against them.

Germ,ania Park, Holyoke

Germania Park, Holyoke

The pair was taken from the second floor of the burning building over ladders by Lt. Walter Wesolaski and the members of the Ladder 2 crew of the South Holyoke Fire Station. After reaching the street the man and woman eluded the police and made a hasty exit from the scene of the fire but the woman was recognized during the rescue and her identity was known.

The fire, of incendiary origin, according to fire officials, started in the kitchen of the first floor of the building. Timely discovery by Cruising Officer Harve Moreau averted a more serious fire as he quickly sent an alarm over the police radio system. When the fire apparatus arrived in response to the first alarm, the man and woman were standing by the windows of the second floor their escape from the building being completely cut off by the flames which worked from the first floor tenement into the hallway. Ladders were raised from the street and the pair was brought to safety.

Fire Ruins in Germania Block August 1956

Fire Ruins in Germania Block
August 1956

Second Alarm Sounded

Deputy Chief Conway ordered a second alarm sounded which brought additional apparatus and more firemen. Water lines were run into both the front and read parts of the building, and the upward surge of the flames was stopped at the baseboards of the second floor. There is a cock loft which runs the length of the building which has 20 units, each of three tenements and fire officials took no chances on the flames entering into the top section and quickly called for additional help.

The first floor tenement was completely wrecked and firemen had to do considerable chopping to get at the fire which had worked into the partitions. Some of the fire companies remained at the scene for several hours.

Former Location of Germania Park and Germania Block (Tenements) Map from Bing

Former Location of Germania Park and
Germania Block (Tenements)
Map from Bing

Definitely Incendiary

Fire Chief John H. Rohan, who is currently on vacation, responded o the second alarm and after an inspection of the building said that the fire was definitely of incendiary origin. There have been other fires in the unoccupied units of the building, but these were started in the early evening hours and it is believed that children who have been playing there were responsible for the fires.

There are comparatively few of the tenements now occupied and hundreds of windows and many of the doors have been broken by children who are continuously playing on the premises.

The Germania Block was at one time one of the best known tenement buildings in the South Holyoke section. Located across from the Germania Park between Jackson and South Canal Sts., there were lawns and small gardens in front of each of the units, and the occupants numbering many of the best known German families were employed at the Germania Mills, now the Livingston Worsted Mills, Inc.

In recent years the buildings have gone into a state of disrepair, and several times the suggestion has been made that they be razed in a slum clearance project. Recently the property was purchased and may be demolished to provide a parking site for employees of a nearby mill.

Adapted from The Springfield Republican.

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