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The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) 1911-1917, February 02, 1917, LAST EDITION, Image 3

Image and text provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045487/1917-02-02/ed-1/seq-3/

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TBeH, real estate dealers, 809 W. Taylor
st, arc the owners of the property.
Geo. H. Murphy was aroused by tele
phone in his magnificent home in
Riverside. He admitted being- princi
pal owner of the building, which was
four stories high and contained eigh
teen apartments. Lieut Jos. McGeean
of the Maxwell st. station gave orders
to arrest Murphy and Campbell on
sight.
The investigations are being made
by the police dept., the fire dept., the
state fire marshal, the gas company,
the building department and the health
department. The police reported that
the tenement was a ramshackle affair
built many years ago.
The explosion, occurred shortly be
fore 1 a. m. in the basement of the
tenement. The gas main gave away
with such force that not only was the
building, wrecked completely, but the
street in Fourteenth place was torn
open and windows were shattered in
all buildingswithin a half-mile radius.
A call was sent in Jor fire engines.
When the firemen arrived they found
many already dead from the explosion
and the cold. There were about twenty
small children living in the building.
Frantic parents had thrown some of
them through the windows in an effort
to save them from the flames.
Pitiful scenes followed. Men. women
and children were carried from the
building, some of them naked, most of
them unconscious. They were wrapped
in blankets and hurried to the county
hospital. Police and spectators, re
gardless of the biting cold, whipped
off their overcoats and covered the
rescued.
Saloons were turned into refuge sta
tions. One policeman came stagger
ing into an already crowded saloon
with three small children wrapped in;
bi 1" overcoat. He had found them
huddled, crying and shivering in an
alley. f
( )ne of the heroines was Mrs. Mary
Schosky. Se was sleeping with her
six Mnall children about her. on the
third floor of Xo. R2.? ihen the outer
wall collapsed, following the explo
sion. Paralyzed with fear and shiver
ing from cold she gathered her little
group about her with the youngest,
eight months old, in her arms and the
rest clinging to her skirts, and fought
her way through the smoke and fumes
to a point where she could drop- them
to the ground. John, six years old,
was lost in the darkness, and police
men had to forcibly restrain the frantic
mother from rushing to certaindeath
in search of him.
The rear porches of the building
were blown away by the explosion, and
this avenue of escape was cut off.
Lieut McGeean arrived shortly
after the explosion and directed the
rescue work through the night. Once,
while Engine Co. 5 were working on
a section of the burning building, he
thought he heard groans. He order
ed the firemen to stop and investi
gated. He found Peter Spitzney and his
wife, Charlotte, locked in each others
arms on a bed, covered over with ice.
Their underclothing was frozen to
them. They were still alive. They
were rushed to the hospital, where
Mrs. Spitzney died. Peter revived
sufficiently to ask them to search for
his five children, believed to have
been killed.
Throughout the night fire com
panies fought bravely against the in
tense cold and kept water flooding
the burning tenement. Many qf the
firemen had to be chopped free of
the ice that formed around their feet
They were hampered by frequent gas
explosions in various parts of the
building.
The gas main ' in 14th pi. burned
steadily until late today. Firemen
worked at this hampered by the fear
of a still more disastrous blast.
The suffering among the poor in
the neighboring tenements was in
tense after their windows had been
broken by the explosion. The Henry
Booth Settlement House at 14th and
Jefferson opened its doors and cared
for many half-frozen children and
adults. The Red Cross opened a tem-

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