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Wester, Kevin J. (ed.) / Consumed by fire : a collection of writings about the famous Wisconsin Chair Company fire, Port Washington, Wisconsin, February 19, 1899
([1997])

Milwaukee Sentinel: Milwaukee, Wisconsin Tuesday, February 21, 1899,   pp. 55-61


Page 59

Three Firemen Hurt.
One of the saddest incidents of the whole fire was the accidents that befell three
firemen. Capt. Patrick Linehan and Pipeman Michael Hackett, Engine company No. 4,
were working among the ruins at 3:30 o'clock this morning, when a chimeny collapsed
and fell on the company which was pouring water on the fire. The flames in that vicinity
had been almost entirely subdued and the collapse came so suddenly that the fire fighters
could not get away. Capt. Linehan and Pipeman Hackett and a local volunteer fireman,
W. A. Krause, were caught in the debris. The three unfortunate men were picked up and
carried into a store close by. Krause's leg was broken and he was immediately taken
home. Later Linehan and Hackett were removed to the Wilson house where Drs.
Hornberger and Hartwig attended them. It was found that Linehan's spine was injured,
but his condition was not regarded as serious. Hackett was not so fortunate. His spine is
reported to have been broken just below the base of the head and his injuries, it is feared,
will prove fatal. His body below his neck is paralyzed. His condition was so serious that
Father Grobschmidt of the Catholic church was called in to administer the last rites of the
church. Later his cousin, Dr. James Hackett of Milwaukee, was notified. The 8 o'clock
train from Milwaukee this morning brought out Dr. Hackett, Mrs. Linehan and her
brother-in-law, Patrolman Donahue. Mrs. Linehan gave directions for her husband's
removal to the depot. It was decided to take both men to Milwaukee on the 10 o'clock
train and shortly before that hour the firemen were carried downstairs. Capt. Linehan was
placed on a cot in one of the hose carts, Mrs. Linehan sitting on the front seat, while
Hackett, in charge of his cousin, was also laid on a cot and removed to the depot in a bus.
A large crowd watched the proceedings and at the depot when the train arrived, the
wounded men were placed in the baggage car on their cots. In the meantime, word was
sent to Chief Foley to be ready to receive the wounded in Milwaukee.
Port Firemen Criticized.
The manner in which the Milwaukee firemen were treated has called forth a good
deal of criticism. Up to the time of the arrival of the Milwaukee fire fighters, shortly
before midnight last night, the efforts of the forty or more volunteer members of the local
fire department to check the flames had been futile. All the local apparatus had broken
down, and the volunteers, arrayed in a full uniform of a fireman, stood idly around while
the flames were destroying thousands of dollars' worth of property. With no apparatus
they could do nothing. When the Milwaukee members arrived they promptly stretched
several streams of hose. They say that they called for assistance but that with few
exceptions the volunteer firemen refused to give any, some of them standing about and
trying to give orders to Asst. Chief Clancy as to how to fight the blaze. The conduct of
one of them so angered the chief that he kicked him off the street where the firemen were
working. For the rest of the night the members of Companies No. 4 and No. 10 worked
like beavers to keep the fire from crossing Franklin street, and in this they succeeded,
though single-handed and with little or no aid from the volunteers, many of whom were
lounging about the saloons. Acting Mayor Corcoran, Asst. Comptroller Porth and Private
Secretary to the Mayor Michael Dunn were outspoken in expressing their opinions on the
behavior of the local firemen. While a dozen Milwaukeeans were fighting against


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