On April 8, 1906, a fire broke out in an electric car (or trolley) house in New York. The fire started on the first floor of the building and was assumed to be caused either by problematic electrical wiring or oily waste.
The flames spread rapidly and soon consumed the building. Losses were estimated at $1.25 million at the time of the fire. The building collapsed early in the event due to unprotected steelwork, though fire doors between the car house and the power station held the fire in check at that stage.
Conclusions that were made at the time:
- There was a considerable delay in sending the alarm and this seems to have been the case for most car house fires of the period;
- Automatic alarms were concluded to be more beneficial than the system they were using;
- It was deemed doubtful that in large car houses like this, whether there was any chance of extinguishing a fire once it extended beyond one car.
For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives.
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