John Cronin, Asst. Foreman - October 6, 1893 (#33)
Engine Co. No. 19 - 52 Waller Street
ST. ROSE'S ACADEMY FIRE, AN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION
1427 Golden Gate Avenue.
Box 247 – N. W. corner Turk and Scott streets.
SECOND ALARM – 8:45 P.M.
John Cronin, Assistant Foreman of Engine Co. No. 19 was killed at this fire; he was struck by a line of hose while on a ladder and hurled to the ground, receiving a fracture of the skull.
SCHOOL IN PERIL.
ST. ROSE'S CONVENT RAIDED BY THE FLAMES.
A FIREMAN'S FATAL FALL.
The Occupants of the House Escape.
Another Fireman Injured— The Loss Was $10,000.
1893 October 7
St. Rose's Convent, at 1427 Golden Gate avenue, between Steiner and Pierce streets, was the scene of a serious fire last evening. Happily the flames were speedily got under control, but not before the attendant dangers had occasioned almost necessarily fatal injuries in the case of one fireman and serious hurt to a second. The loss by fire and water was estimated by Captain Comstock of the Underwriters' Fire Patrol at $10,000.
At 8:45 p. m. Teresa Wollenberg of 1519 Golden Gate avenue was going down to a neighboring grocery, when she saw smoke rising from the roof of the convent, a six story building. She stood on the corner of Golden Gate avenue and Steiner streets until two gentlemen came along, when she induced them to alarm the sisters in the building and turn in an alarm. They sent one in from station 247 a minute later.
Luckily there were not many inmates in the threatened building, as they consisted of Mother Agues, five sisters and six boarders, who had retired. Their sleeping apartment was on the third floor, and during the regime of Sister Claire (for fifteen years predecessor of Mother Agues) had been supplemented by a hallway running over to the hill in the rear. By this natural fire-escape, which had been constructed at the suggestion of Rev. Father Prendergast, the children were quickly removed and placed in safety. The sisters seized a few of their most valued treasures and left by the front door, finding a welcome at Mr. Nolan's residence across the street.
Engines 14, 21 and 22 were speedily on the spot, and Chief Sullivan shortly discovered that the fire was confined to the upper part of the house. It appeared to have a firm hold, and was so threatening to the adjacent block on the east side that a second alarm was turned in.
It was at the nearest house in the Seattle block, 1425 Golden Gate avenue, that John Cronan, foreman of engine 22, met with a terrible accident. He had ascended a ladder placed against the front of the house to the upper windows and was dragging up a heavy hose. The ladder being on a side sill was not too firmly set and Chief Sullivan had just shouted "Look out for that ladder" when a sudden jerk of the hose caused Cronan to miss his footing and full down to the stone sidewalk, a distance of thirty feet. He was picked up unconscious by the assistant foreman of 22 and others, who carried him into the residence of John J. Haley, 1408 Golden Gate avenue, whence he was removed to the Receiving Hospital. It was found that his skull was fractured and that he was injured internally, besides having his right ear nearly torn off and sustaining severe lacerations and contusions.
Another serious casualty was that of Edward White of engine 14. He was one of the first on the scene, and in company with another fireman entered the burning building with the intention of reaching the roof, which was at that time in a mass of flames. On arriving on the third floor the heat and smoke became so intense that White made for an open window in a front room, when suddenly an explosion occurred on the story above, shaking the plaster from the walls and ceiling and bringing down a number of heavy pictures, one of which fell upon White, knocking him to the floor in an unconscious condition. When picked up, blood was flawing in great quantities from a wound inflicted on the wrist. He was at once removed to a drugstore near by, where Dr. de Witt attended to his injuries. It was found that there was a deep cut across the wrist extending down to the artery. The wound is quite a severe one, and unless proper care is taken may result fatally. Engine 14, which is stationed on McAllister street, near Buchanan, arrived on the scene several moments before the first alarm had been turned in. This act, which is somewhat out of the ordinary, is attributed to the foreman, who discovered the blaze while walking near the engine house and gave a still alarm. On arriving at the scene, a hose was taken on the roof of an adjoining building and played upon the burning mass in a very effective manner.
The second alarm at 8:45 brought in engines from all sides, including the Oak street engines, which did good work. The fire was discovered to be mainly in the roof and the efforts of the department were directed to confining it, so that it might not be communicated to the adjoining flats, 1421, 1423 and 1425 Golden Gate avenue. In their well-directed efforts they were assisted by the presence of a heavy fog, which acted as a wet blanket. The adjoining flats are owned by D. B. Jorkin, the lowest being occupied by P. Dorritz, the middle one by Mr. Mosgrove and the topmost by R. G. Wallace. They, with their families, were quickly got out of the way, much of their furniture being temporarily placed in a vacant lot nearly opposite. The roof was broken in the attempt to use it as a vantage ground to subdue the convent fire, and considerable damage, estimated at $500, was done by water.
J. J. Mone, the well-known attorney and baseball magnate, lives almost opposite the convert and was one of the first to become aware of the danger. He had recently purchased 125 feet of garden hose, and as soon as he heard of "fire" he gallantly ascended the roof with his indiarubber treasure and turned an effective stream all over the roofs of the adjacent houses, preventing their catching fire from stray sparks. In the meantime Mrs. Mone downstairs was packing up the silver, but luckily she was not called upon to move in a hurry.
By 10:15 the fire was practically under control and Chief Sullivan left, relegating his powers to Third Assistant Engineer Kennard, who thereafter directed proceedings in the way of extinguishing the last spark of the devouring element which had been driven clear on the roof and ornamental cornices.
Heavy streams were played from within and the crowds in the immediate vicinity got many a good soaking. Being in a residence portion of town the fire had attracted a large number of ladies with their escorts.
By 10:30 the fire was got under control, and it was estimated that not dry corner remained in the building. The damage by water constituted a large portion of the $10,000 at which the full amount was estimated.
The building was valued at $40,000 and was insured for $20,000.
The cause of the fire is thought by Captain Comstock to have been a spark from a chimney.
The sisters and children who escaped from the burning building found a welcome with friends in the neighborhood.
St. Rose's Convent was a large three story frame building occupied by the Sisters of St. Dominic as a day and boarding school. The number of boarders was about fifty and of day scholars 200. The same sisters also have charge of the College San Rafael, near San Rafael, and St. Catherine's Convent, Benicia. The number of sisters in the community was fifteen. The building burned last night was built some fifteen years ago and while in a good state of preservation was growing too small for the accommodation of the students. It was the intention of the sisters to erect a new building in a short time, but in a different location, the present site being more valuable for residence purposes.
Cronin died at 10:55 o'clock. He was unmarried. He was a brother-in-law of Assemblyman James A. Brett.
Source: San Francisco Call, Volume 74, Number 129, 7 October 1893 — SCHOOL IN PERIL. [ARTICLE]
1893 October 15 In part
The Board of Fire Commissioners met yesterday afternoon, when the following transfers and appointments were made: Bert Wheeler from engineer engine 7 to engineer engine 21; William Cunningham from engineer engine 21 to engineer engine 7; John Barry from hose 3 to truck 6; M. F. McAuliff from truck 6 to hose 3; D.F. Duncan, truckman truck 5. vice Broderick, failed to qualify; Frank Miller, hoseman engine 19, vice Cronin, deceased. Ten men were tried for violating the rules in being late to a funeral detail. They were reprimanded and told they must obey that rule as much as any of the others.
Source: San Francisco Call, Volume 74, Number 137, 15 October 1893 — Fire Commissioners. [ARTICLE]
Extracted from original sources with grammar and spelling as published.
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