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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 Journal: Milwaukee, Wisconsin Tuesday, February 21, 1899,   pp. 64-66


Page 65

Milwaukee men took all due precautions for safety, having played vigorously on the
chimney for three minutes before approaching it in order to knock it down. It seemed,
however, that it was firm and so they advanced close to the fire to fight back the flames.
In regard to unloading at the elevated track, they say that the structure would not
have held the heavy engine and that strong timbers were needed to unload it.
Milwaukee Firemen Bitter.
Assistant Chief Clancy and other members of the Milwaukee fire department who
were at the Port Washington fire still speak in the most unreserved terms of
condemnation of the treatment accorded them by the firemen and citizens of that town. In
effect, they state that after their arrival they were left the greater part of the work to do
and were not only not treated civilly, but were threatened with personal violence, threats
which were even made while the wounded men of the Milwaukee department were being
carried into the hotel where they found a temporary resting place.
Even the Mayor Accused.
Even the mayor of Port Washington, Mr. Clancy says, was not at all times
courteous to the men whose assistance he had asked to fight the danger threatening the
town of which he is chief magistrate, though he had the injured men provided with beds
at the Wilson house. One time, when there was trouble between Port Washington men
and others, probably Milwaukeeans, but certainly not Milwaukee firemen, the mayor
went to Mr. Clancy and in an angry manner called for the withdrawal of the firemen from
the city, saying there was trouble where they were.
Another instance of the way Port Washington men acted was in the morning about
5:30 o'clock, when the Milwaukee firemen withdrew for twenty minutes for a lunch.
Upon their return they could not find either chief or men of the local force.
Mr. Clancy says that even in the smallest things the firemen of Port Washington
held back and what assistance was given, which was little enough, was not from members
of the department, but from members of the community. The work of hauling hose and
similar work, in which help would have been a great aid to the Milwaukee firemen, was
left entirely to the Milwaukee men.
A Milwaukee fireman who was standing at the door of the hotel, in an endeavor to
keep back the crowd and make way for the doctors and others who had to go in and out in
attendance on the injured men, was told not to get "too fresh" and was threatened with
personal violence.
All the trouble of unloading the engines, Mr. Clancy says, might have been
avoided had there been displayed a little thoughtfulness, for within two blocks of where
the cars carrying the apparatus were stopped and unloaded, there was a platform to which
they could have been taken from the cars with but little expenditure of time and labor.
Chief Foley Angry.
Chief James Foley of the Milwaukee fire department says that things have come
to a pretty pass if men of the department who are voluntarily risking their lives for the


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