Fire At Germania Mills

by Laurel | February 5th, 2014

05 February 1928

Germania Mills Fire in Holyoke

Crowds Watch Work of Firemen at
Germania Mills Fire in Holyoke

$100,000 Loss By Flames At Holyoke Mill
Blaze in Drying and Picker Rooms of Germania Plant
Causes Heavy Damage to Building and Machinery

All Available Fire Apparatus Called

Automatic Sprinklers Useless Because Workmen Had Disconnected Them
and Drained Out Water to Make Changes in System —Three Alarms Sounded —
Firemen Have Blaze under Control in About An Hour

Holyoke, Feb 4. — Fie in the plant of the Germania Mills, makers of woolen an worsted cloth, at the corner of South and Race Streets, for which a general alarm was sounded early this afternoon caused a loss estimated at $100,000.

Three Box Calls

Box 217 was first sounded and was followed by two other box-calls which brought every available piece of fire apparatus in the city to the fire. The fire was under control in about an hour but the firemen were kept busy at the plant for several hours more.

It was estimated tonight that the loss on the building will be fully $50,000 and that the damage to the machinery and stock will be $50,000 or more.

The fire was at first believed to have originated in the dryer room, though later it was stated that it may have started in the carbonizing room, but it was early seen blazing in the dryer room where the wool is dried after being prepared. it spread rapidly into the picker room, which is in a long low one-story addition to the main structure, extending along South Street.

Fire Had Good Start

When the department arrived, called by a still alarm at 1:38 followed by the Germania Mills box at 1:43, the windows in the stock house and main mill buildings were belching volumes of smoke. The department at once located the heart of the fire to be between the stock house and the main building and centered its attention to keep the fire from spreading from the main mill to the other buildings. The fire swept out into the picker room, a one-story ell to the main building, and was fought from to sides by streams from the pimps. The north end of the main mill received the worst punishment. the new mill in the section across South Street was at no time threatened by the blaze.

An odd thing about the fire was that this main mill was equipped with automatic sprinklers which were useless because a gang of men at work on the pipe line had disconnected them and drained out the water in order to make certain changes thus leaving the plant unprotected, and it was while thus unprotected that the fire happened to break out and obtain such a headway. Fire officials said that had the sprinklers been operating, the fire would have amounted to very little

About nine lines of hose were laid and the dense smoke throughout the building, especially in the main room and picker room made fighting the fire difficult work/ Time and again it was thought that some of the men who were affected by the smoke would have to retire but they soon returned to the fire fighting. District Chief Michael Mahoney received a bad cut over one eye but the smoke eaters were neither compelled to go home or to the hospital. There was fear of chlorine gas from the burning wool but nothing of the kind developed.

Some mystery attaches to the ringing of the second alarm at 2:30 and chief P. J. Hurley said tonight that there was no general alarm ordered and if it was rung in, it was unauthorized by him. The alarm at 2:30 was 42 which is no signal in the code.

William Mauer, manager of the Germania Mills, said tonight that he thought that the main five-story mill was practically ruined and that a new building would have to be erected in its place. Owing to the smoke and other conditions, there was little opportunity for salvage from this mill. he could not yet estimate the amount of the damage either to stock and machinery or to buildings. Speaking of machinery, he said it might take a month or more to duplicate some of the machines that were destroyed. While the mill would have to close down for some days, it was planned to make the closure as short as possible. The material loss will probably be covered by insurance.

The Germania Mills is one of the busiest textile mills not only in Holyoke but in this section. It runs night shifts a large part of the time and shutdowns are almost unknown. About 1000 employees will be affected by the fire.

Adapted from The Springfield Republican.

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