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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

Port Washington Star: Port Washington, Wisconsin February 25, 1899,   pp. 11-18

Port Washington Star: Port Washington, Wisconsin Saturday, February 25, 1899,   pp. 18-19

Page 18

10 o'clock train and shortly before that hour the firemen were carried down-stairs. 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.
The injured firemen had been made as comfortable as possible for the journey,
cots having been placed in a baggage car in order that the sufferers might not be disturbed
by other passengers. At the Milwaukee depot ambulances were waiting, and Hackett was
taken to St. Mary's hospital. Capt. Linehan, not so seriously injured, was unwilling to go
to the hospital, and was taken to his home, 1928 Clybourn street.
Hackett had little or no chance of recovery. When the bricks from the chimney
fell, Hackett was struck just below the neck, injuring the spine in a manner which the
physicians stated must prove fatal, as the spinal cord was partially severed. In addition to
this injury, Hackett suffered with a number of bruises about the body. Death relieved the
brave fellow from his sufferings at 2:30 o'clock Tuesday morning. He was conscious up
to a short time previous to his death and suffered greatly.
The brick which caused Capt. Linehan's injury struck him on the back, also
affecting the spine, though not seriously. The bruise is nevertheless exceedingly painful,
and it will be some time before complete recovery can be looked for. The doctors are of
the opinion that the injury will not be fatal, however, and they are in the hopes that no
permanent injury will result.
Hackett is 31 years of age, and has been in the fire department for about one year.
He is unmarried and has boarded at Sycamore and Fifth streets. During his connection
with the Fire department he has been assigned to Company No. 4.
Capt. Linehan is 41 years of age and the father of three children. He has been a
member of the First department for many years, and as captain of the Company No. 4 has
an excellent record for efficiency.
The Milwaukee Journal has this excellent editoral reference to Port Washington's
disaster: The loss of nearly half a million dollars to a city the size of Port Washington is a
very serious affair. More particulary so as it includes the chief manufacturing center and
enterprises of the town. As is not unfrequently the case in smaller towns, the fire
apparatus proved wholly inadequate for an emergency and the drill of the firemen
defective in subordination. There comes a time in the history of every city when the
village methods must be replaced by a more effective organization of the fire department,
both in men and material. This will now be made in Port, yet the delay has cost the city
dearly. But the disaster was none the less disheartening to the town. A large porportion
of its capital and its best business are wasted when it needs them all the more to recover
the loss. It is fortunate that no more lives were lost in so fierce a conflagration.

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