Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Boston Daily Globe July 12, 1901

Cool Heads Prevent Catastrophe

Fire in Shanty at Jamaica Plain, Where 100 Pounds of Dynamite Was Stored.

Three barrels of gasoline and more than 100 pounds of dynamite came very near being food for flames in Jamaica Plain last evening. A catastrophe was averted by the cool-headedness of the workmen, but not without great excitement.

In the triangle formed by the junction of Day, Centre and Perkins sts, a shaft is sunk and a tunnel being bored that will extend from that point under Parker hill. It will be used by the metropolitan sewerage commission. Harry P. Nawn is the contractor.

To carry on the work there a pair of engines are used to hoist the elevator in the shaft and pump the water from the tunnel. Directly in the rear of the boiler house is what is called the powder house. Here are stored the gasoline, dynamite and a number of tools.

About 8:45 last evening a workman was sent to the powder house to fill a gasoline lamp. He carried on his arm a lighted lantern. While he was filling the lamp, the gasoline ignited, and in an instant there was a flash.

James Murray, another employee, who was standing close by, jumped to the assistance of the man and helped to extinguish the flames.

In the meantime someone ran to fire alarm box 263, a short distance away, and pulled the alarm. Another excited citizen, feeling that the engine did not respond quickly enough, pulled the hook four minutes later, and as a result the street in a short time was filled with few apparatus.

A crowd gathered and watched the firemen running about and the horses prancing. It suddenly became noised about that there was a fire in the shanty where were stored 500 pounds of dynamite and three barrels of gasoline. The news spread rapidly, but hardly more so than the crowd. In a very few minutes the firemen had plenty of room to work, and the policemen stood idly by and watched proceedings.

The excitement for a time was intense, and everybody was waiting for the explosion. But it did not come, and then it was learned there was no danger from the source.

Murray was taken to Wallace's drug store on Centre st, where his arm was bandaged, and then he went back and sat down in the boiler room, a few feet from the source of all the trouble.

After the excitement had cooled off, the men who work on the job on the surface gathered in the little boiler room to discuss the situation. When asked regarding the amount of dynamite on hand, one of the foremen said there never was more than 100 pounds . Every morning a fresh supply is received for use during the day and night. He said Murray had acted his part with true bravery.

The damage by the fire was very small.

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