Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments
Chapter 16, Part III
By Holice and Debbie
The firemen were not long in reaching the scene of disaster, with Chief Engineer Alfred Carson at their head. A general alarm having been sounded, nobly did the members of the Department turn their untiring efforts toward rescuing those still alive. They soon controlled the flames, and then body after body was carried out, some mangled and bruised beyond recognition. Among those early on the spot were Zophar Mills, harry Howard, Recorder F. A. Tallmadge, Chief Matsell, J. Murray Ditchett, Joe Keefe of Engine 21; while among the companies who mounted the hot bricks were Engines 4, 5, 13, 14, 22, and Hook and Ladder 1 and 4. All the down-town companies lent a helping hand. Wm. Story, of No. 4, at the risk of his own life, rescued many, among them a little boy named Freddie Tieman. Story had to crawl down into a hole seven feet before he could get to where the little fellow lay. He was alive, and the first work he said was, "Mr. Fireman, that fire is close to my feet." Story gave him his fire cap and told him to put it over his face to keep the steam off, and he would put a stream on the fire. The lad did as he was told, and waited for the hour of deliverance. While he lay thus wedged in between two heavy beams he heard others beneath him giving way to the agony of despair. His words to those were: "What's the use of giving up? The firemen hare hard at work; they will get us out if anybody can."
They finally sawed away a large timber, Zophar Mills superintending the whole affair, and the little hero was saved. Away down near the bottom lay another brave little fellow, who name is still stamped upon the heart of many an old fireman, one Samuel Tindale, fifteen years old, and by him one of his comrades, Thomas Vanderbilt, nineteen years old. Around them were burning timbers and hissing bricks. Tindale soon made known his whereabouts, and the firemen worked like beavers to rescue him. His brother was quickly by his side, and when the boy heard him he said: "Go tell mother I am still living ; not to worry; that I hope soon to get out." At the same time he told the firemen he was up to his neck in water: "You must stop that water or I shall drown; there is a stick across my leg, and I cannot love."
The firemen kept carting away basket after basket of rubbish, and finally worked their way down to an old side door, where they made considerable headway, when young Tindale hallooed to them that he was scorching. Finally they got near enough to hand him a blanket. As he took it he said there was a dead man lying alongside of him. All day long he remained in the same position. It seemed a miracle how he ever survived; but his brother remained by him, encouraging him and furnishing him with stimulants. About nine o'clock at night it was found that a heavy iron bar held him fast. About eleven o'clock he said he thought they could not save him, and exclaimed: "I shall be the third one who had been killed in this affair." He had no idea how many had fallen victims in this deplorable disaster. At one o'clock the iron bar was lifted, when it was discover that another bar still held him a prisoner. As soon as the boy heard this, he exclaimed: "Pull me out, whether you drag my legs off or not!" On worked the firemen, never faltering for a moment, and at four o'clock in the morning, amid shouts of all, the noble youth was lifted out and b. e to Dr. Traphagen's drug store, No. 308 Pearl St., where he died shortly after. He had been twenty hours in the ruins.
Sixty-four persons were killed, the greater portion of whom were young men and boys, while about seventy were injured. Among the latter was John Vanderpool of engine 15. He succeeded in rescuing a young lad named George West, William Merritt of Hose 13, and henry A. burr. The Common Council, headed by Mayor Westervelt, did all they could to aid the sufferings of the wounded and the families of the dead. No fire ever occurred in this city that was attended with a greater loss of life.
Names of killed and wounded in The Hague St. explosion:
Transcribed by Holice B. Young
HTML by Debbie
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