Andrew Warner Killed

A member of Cataract Hose Company killed at Sunday Morning Fire

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, of McAfee.

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