[Adapted from the Springfield Republican, 11 Feb 1922.]
Melville Street Building is Badly Damaged—Body
of Woman Removed with Difficulty From Undertaker’s Rooms.
Pittsfield, Feb. 11—Fire which was still burning at 12:30 this morning caused damage estimated at $30,000 to the three-story brick block of James W. Meehan, undertaker, at 20 to 24 Melville Street. Mr. Meehan, his son, William, and an employee, John W. Davis were in the morgue on the first floor preparing the body of Mrs. James C. Brennan of 87 Second street for burial when one of them opened a door leading to the cellar and was met by a great wave of smoke and flame. A telephone alarm was first sent, to the central fire station, and was followed by an alarm from box 42 on the American house corner, and three minutes later by box 372, at the corner of North and Union streets. Twelve lines of hose were laid by the firemen.
Lieut. Powers Overcome by Smoke
Lieut. Edward J. Powers, who was one of the first to arrive at the fire, went into the morgue with a smoke mask to remove the body of Mrs. Brennan. In some way the mask was knocked from his face and he was overcome by smoke. He was rescued and taken into the adjoining Father Mathew building, where he was revived, and he was later able to rejoin the firemen. The body was finally removed by Mr. Meehan’s son, William V. Meehan.
There are apartments on the two upper floors of the block. Those on the second floor were occupied by Mr. and Mrs. John W. Davis and two children, Miss Suzie A. Sheridan, telegraph dispatcher for the Boston & Albany railroad, John H. McDonald and John B. Lynch. On the top floor were Mr. and Mrs. John Costes, their son George and Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Costes. The women were rescued by firemen and members of the Father Mathew society who when through in a thick smoke after them.
Rush for Doors in Father Mathew Hall
Four hundred people were attending a Father Mathew Bazaar in the gymnasium when the first alarm was sounded at 9:40. Some one saw flames in the Meehan block through the windows and yelled “Fire.” There was a rush for the doors and almost a panic prevailed for several minutes but cool heads were able to control the situation. The Father Mathew building was somewhat damaged by smoke and water. The firemen had three lines of hose in that building. Members of the society later served lunch to the firemen.
Fire Goes Through Roof
At midnight the fire had gone through the roof of the Meehan block in the rear and smoke was pouring out of the windows on the Melville street side and inthe alleyway between the block and the boys’ club building on the west.
Mr. Meehan had about 100 coffins in storage in the cellar of the building. The fire is believed to have started in some excelsior. The firemen had the aerial ladder in use about 11:30. Two lines of hose across North street blocked trolly traffic. Miss Sheridan had considerable money and a valuable fur coat and a violin in her apartment. These were saved at midnight by Fireman Patrick Condron. The two alarms attracted a crowd estimated at 2000 people and the block was roped off on each side by the police. The Meehan block was built in 1910.
Mrs. Brennan died at 6 o’clock last night at St. Luke’s hospital as the result of childbirth. Her son and only child died on Monday. She was miss Mary Kerins and was married a year ago to Mr. Brennan, who is in the post-office. Besides her husband she leaves her father, John Kerin, one brother, Thomas, and one sister, Miss Marguerite.
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