The Sunday morning fire at the plant of
the Lackawanna Leather Company, destroyed the Japan shop and contents
involving a direct loss of $10,250. the community and the Company, however,
has hardly stopped to consider the money loss because it has been overwhelmed
by the loss of a useful life in the performance of public duty.
The fire was discovered by the day watchman shortly after he went on
duty in the morning. He found smoke issuing from the second story of
the brick Japan shop, the center of the group of buildings composing
this extensive and highly successful manufacturing plant. There was
delay in securing a telephone connection, but there was no lack of effort
once the Fire Department was in charge. The fire was beyond control
almost from the moment of discovery, and the water of all the reservoirs
could have been turned into that seething mass of inflammable material
without avail. Three streams were turned on, and the only hope of those
in charge was that the blaze could be confined and that the interior
would burn itself out before the walls fell.
On the ground floor, about the center of the burning building, Mr. Warner
and Will Rice had run a set of hose pouring water in through the window.
At the next window Watson Barker was shoveling sand on flaming boxes
and barrels, and over them was Sanford Clark and Mr. Newhauser, an employee
of the Leather Company, dragging a hose to the landing above. In an
instant there was an explosion on the second floor, and explosion that
was not heard, but the detonation of which was plainly felt. The roof
of the building raised perceptively and settled back in the flames.
The alarm was sounded and the men below barely escaped from the wall,
all but Mr. Warner, who was caught and crushed. It isn't probable from
his condition that he ever know what struck him. He was seen to turn
at warning, evidently stumbled and was going down when the great mass
caught him. Messrs. Rice and Barker were barely out of reach, but Clark
and Newhauser were not so fortunate. Clark jumped with rare presence
of mind close to the building and escaped with shock and bruises, but
Newhauser, who was below him on the ladder, was struck by falling bricks
and badly cut about the head and upper body. It is marvelous, indeed,
that others crowded about the burning building, ignorant largely of
the combustible and inflammable contents, but bent on rendering service,
were not killed.
The Japan shop is kept at a high temperature at all times, and so far
as the danger of fire is concerned is the specially hazardous risk about
a leather plant. The fire unquestionably resulted from the combustion
on the second floor of the plant, and it is possible that if the live
steam system, fitted up for just such an emergency, had been used when
first discovered the fire might have been smothered. To the newspaper
Mr. Good made the following statement: "I find it hard to discuss
our loss and the resultant business disorganization, which is as nothing
compared with the loss of Mr. Warner's life. I have a keen personal
sorrow in this matter because of the circumstances that he, with hundreds
of other, was trying to serve us in performing a very hazardous public
duty, and I have tried in a practical way to express that sympathy.
The actual loss of the property, building and contents, is about $10,250,
and is fully insured. Just as soon as the insurance adjustment is made
the Company will begin the rebuilding under, I hope, more advanced and
secure construction. The interruption of business, the curtailment of
output, is a more serious matter, and yet by doubling up we hope to
keep our organization together. The making of leather is a system of
progression, going from one shop or department to the other, and every
branch is hindered and delayed by stoppage in one. This is fortunately
the dull season in the trade, and we hope to get a new building, or
buildings, completed before the demand becomes an embarrassment."
"I want to express my obligations to the Fire Department. They
handled this fire like veterans and with the best judgment, and I sometimes
wonder if all our people appreciate the work they do and the risk they
assume with so much enthusiasm when the emergency arises."
The death of Andrew H. Warner is the first fatality in the thirty-odd
years history of Cataract Hose Company. He was a native of Hope, and
for eleven years had been a resident of Hackettstown, working at his
trade of a plumber for the Osmun Company most of that time. He has been
a member of Cataract Hose Company for four years. He was very popular
in the Company, and as a citizen was respected for his industry and
character, and that respect has become very real in the sacrifice of
his life to public duty. We feel we have commission from this community
to say that its message to the stricken widow is one of sincere sorrow
and tender sympathy.
Mr. Warner was 37 years of age and beside his wife is survived by three
brothers and two sisters. They are Bartley, of Chicago; Charles of Hope;
William of Madison; Mrs. Edward Vosler, of Hope; and Mrs. Charles Green,
The funeral services were held from his late home on High Street on
Wednesday. The funeral was private, but the body lay in state from 11am
to 1pm that the citizens and members of the Fire Department might pay
their last tribute of respect. The burial was in the Pequest Cemetery,
members of the Jr. O.E.A.M. having charge of the services at the grave.
The Hackettstown Gazette: July 28, 1911