Friday May 9, 1902
BURIED UNDER A FALLEN WALL
THREE FIREMEN MEET DEATH WHILE FIGHTING
FLAMES AT IOWA IRON WORKS
ANOTHER SERIOUSLY INJURED
MASS OF BRICK TUMBLED SUDDENLY
AND CRUSHED OUT LIVES IMMEDIATELY
Building Is Consumed but Loss of $20,000 Is Covered by Insurance
Three men were killed and one was seriously injured by a falling wall last night, (May 8, 1902) when fire consumed the foundry of the Iowa Iron Works Co.
The dead are:
FRANK GANAHL, captain of the Central Engine company.
JOHN FITZPATRICK, fireman of the Central Engine company.
CHARLES WISE, volunteer fireman.
DANIEL McPOLAND, volunteer fireman; compound fracture of the left leg. Amputation below the knee may be necessary.
The fire was discovered at 6:40 p. m. by George Egelhof, an employee of the Iowa Iron Works Co., who saw the flames while passing through the building. He advised the night watchman, John Roggensock, and the latter turned in a general alarm. The Central Engine was first to arrive at the scene, the foundry being located at Jackson and Tenth streets, but a few blocks from the department house. The response to the alarm was quick and in a few moments a stream was playing on the flames, which completely enveloped the building. A moment later Captain Ganahl, John Fitzpatrick, Charles Wise and Daniel McPoland, the dead and injured men, in response to a call for volunteers to approach the impending danger, turned a second stream on the flames. The roof of the building had burned and the east wall had fallen in when Captain Eitel of the Eighteenth street company cried a warning to the firemen near the west wall to beware of danger. His suggestion went unheeded, however, and the men stuck to their posts. In a moment and with sudden awfulness, the wall fell, pinning the dead and injured men beneath it. Fitzpatrick and Wise were killed instantly, their skulls being crushed by the brick, and various bones broken. Capt. Ganahl lived four minutes after he was removed from beneath the wall, which was done instantly. An unsuccessful effort was made to secure a priest to attend him. He complained almost audibly of an injury to his leg and died before medical assistance could be rendered him. His skull was crushed. Mr. McPoland was rendered senseless but escaped with injuries to his legs. He was carried from the fire on a cot and removed to Mercy hospital in an ambulance. A report gained currency that he died on his way but this, of course, was untrue. The surgeons who attended him found that the shock had unnerved him and that the left leg was fractured. They may amputate it.
The loss on the foundry will reach nearly $20,000. The building was completely gutted and only parts of two walls remained standing. The machinery and the patterns, in the building, were damaged considerably and it is on these the greatest loss accrues. The building and contents were completely covered by insurance.
The Fire in DetailWhen the fire department arrived on the scene, masses of smoke and flame were pouring from the burning structure. The firemen stretched hose in alleys and passageways, little thinking that in the lapse of a few minutes death would sweep through their ranks and claim their of their number.
The flames were confined to the foundry, which is separated from the main building by several passage ways, and owing to the extreme dryness of the building, they spread rapidly in all directions. Numerous streams began playing on the raging furnace but such headway had been gained that little effect was made.
The origin of the fire is a mystery. The alarm was sent in by telephone to the different departments. The firemen from the Central engine house entered the court where the foundry is located. Fireman Jack (John) Flynn, Jake Schellenburg (Schoenberger), Michael Sweeney, Henry Kane (Cain) and Frank Kenneally took one line of hose and began to concentrate their efforts on the left. A moment later they were followed by Captain Ganahl, John Fitzpatrick, Charles Wise and Daniel McPoland who began to work in the same vicinity, a little farther south. The passage way where the men stood was not very large being about eighteen feet wide. Ganahl and his men, of the Chemical company upon arrival at the fire saw at a glance that the chemical engine would be of no service so they secured a line of hose attached it to the nearest steamer, and began to fight the flames. As is always the case in large fires in Dubuque there are not sufficient men to operate all the apparatus and Chief Reinfried called for volunteers. Charles Wise had been acting in the capacity of volunteer for some time, having done good work at the Richardson and Telegraph fires.
When the firemen went into the court to fight the flames from the best point of vantage they did not think that there was danger ahead. The rear wall of the foundry was only a story and a half high, containing several doors and constructed for a gable shaped roof. A crowd of spectators stood about twenty feet distant and none expected what happened. The fire had been burning perhaps half an hour and the interior of the structure was gutted. Heavy beams were falling every now and then and clouds of sparks and burning embers filled the air. Then a loud crash was heard. It came from the east end of the building and someone shouted, "the other wall has failed." Captain Eitel of the Eighteenth street department, heard the crash and thinking of his men in the courtyard, admonished them to stand back. Still they worked bending their best energies on the hose that was in their hands and withstanding terrible heat.
The Story of An Eye WitnessMichael Sweeney, one of the hosemen of Company No. 1 stood within fifteen feet of the wall when it fell. In company with Frank Kenneally, Henry Kane (Cain) and John (Jake) Schoenberger he had hold of the first hose that was taken into the foundry. A few minutes after they had started throwing the stream into the burning mass, another section of hose in charge of John Fitzpatrick, Frank Ganahl, Chas. Wise and Daniel McPoland, was brought into action. Mr. Sweeney states that the latter crew had just commenced to turn the stream on when, without a moments warning, there was an awful crash and in an instant the lives of three brave men had been crushed out. Sweeney and his crew rushed away in time to escape injury. The other men, however, were in such a position that it was impossible for them to reach a place of safety before they were buried beneath the mass of brick and mortar.
When the crash came not a sound of agony from the doomed men could be heard above the din of the fallen mass. But a moment later those who had escaped knew that the dead were buried beneath the mass of brick and the search for the bodies was instituted without delay, and within fifteen minutes from the time the wall gave way, the bodies of Ganahl, Fitzpatrick and Wise had been removed from beneath the wreckage and McPoland, who was more dead than alive, was being removed to the hospital.
The Fatal wallThe raging fire continued the work of destruction, the flames mounting higher and higher. Sparks were flying in all direction and the eaves of the main building were beginning to blaze. The heat was intense; the strain terrible. Still Captain Ganahl and his faithful crew worked on. Suddenly, like a clap of thunder, there was a report the awfulness of which will not be effacted from the memory of those who heard it for many days. Then there was heard the cries of the dead and dying. The crowd moved back, turned, looked aghast and trembled.
When the clouds of brick and mortar settled, willing hands lent their assistance and the work of rescue was begun.
Saw the Wall FallM. J. Mulgrew, clerk of the district court, had a narrow escape from death. He was one of the first on the scene after the alarm was sounded and stood in one of the passage ways leading to the court yard where the brave men lost their lives. For ten minutes he watched the fire eating its way through the foundry; then he noticed that the eaves of the main building were smouldering and believing that the firemen were unaware of the fact he decided to inform them.
"I did not realize the danger when I attempted to convey my message," said Mr. Mulgrew. "I had been standing with a number of spectators in the passage way when I noticed the flames on the roof of the other building and the thought struck me that it would be useless for the firemen to spend any more time on the foundry as it was now a total loss, so I decided to warn them that the main structure was catching fire. With this object in view I started forward. The little band of firemen were standing about ten feet from the foundry wall directing the stream through the doorway. They were looking at the raging furnace and were not cognizant of the fact that the wall was going to give way. Indeed, nobody realized the danger. I had gone probably twenty paces and was within a half a dozen feet of the groupe when the terrible crash came. For a moment I lost my senses and then I felt myself knocked against the wall of the structure. The concussion was terrible and the chock that I received I will not soon forget. My hat was knocked off and debris covered my clothes. When I recovered my senses my first thought was for the firemen. I knew that they had been submerged and I ran for assistance. While I was ringing for the patrol wagon tender hands were taking the bodies from the ruins."
Ott Smith's StatementOtt Smith, a young man about twenty years old, was near the wall when it fell. He said: "It was a terrible sight-one that I will not forget. The men were fighting the fire bravely when without the slightest premonition the crash came. I was standing near and the force of the collision knocked my hat off. I heard one of the men moan piteously, but who he was, poor fellow, I. nor anybody else, will ever know. When the work of rescue began, I stood by lending what assistance I could. When Ganahl was taken from beneath the mass of brick and mortar he was still alive and he cried out, 'oh, don't hurt my leg.' Then his eyes rolled back, he breathed a few times and died. I am sure the others were killed instantly."
Bodies Horribly MangledWhen the bodies were recovered from beneath the debris they were carried into an archway and thence removed by Coroner Hoar to the undertaking rooms of Hoar & Murphy. The arrival of the coffins at the scene of the accident chilled the blood of the spectators and the procession to the undertaking rooms was witnessed by thousands. Throngs congregated at Locust and Seventh streets, where is situated the coroner's place of business, but a view of the bodies was denied all but the relatives of the dead men. A jury comprising former Sheriff Phillips, Eldon Fischer and John Noonan was impaneled and they viewed the bodies. Capt. Ganahl suffered the fewest injuries and Wise's body was the worst mangled. His skull was cleaved in two, both arms were broken below the elbow and both legs were fractured below the knees. Mr. Fitzpatrick's skull was fractured, his left arm broken above the elbow, the left leg below the knee, two ribs were broken and his chest was crushed in. Mr. Ganahl's face was skinned, there were several fractures in the back of his head, the left leg was broken at the knee and the ankle in the right leg was broken. After the jury had viewed the bodies they were removed to their respective homes.
The InsuranceThe stock and building were fully covered by insurance in companies represented by Peter Kiene & Son. The lines carried are as follows:
Committee AppointedA meeting of the Firemen's Protective association was held this morning and a committee was appointed to procure suitable funeral offerings for the dead members, and also make whatever arrangements are necessary for the funerals. Messrs. Fitzpatrick and Ganahl were members of fraternal organizations, and the committee appointed by the firemen will ascertain whether or not these organizations wish to have the funerals conducted under their auspices. Mr. Ganahl was a member of the I. O. O. F. and Mr. Fitzpatrick of the Woodmen of the World. Mr. Wise had membership in the Spanish War Veterans' Association.
After the FireA mass of burnt blackened wood, a huge pile of rusted, bent iron and a shattered wall of bricks mark the scene of last night's tragedy. To-day the sun shines with as gracious a splendor on the cruel, wrecked mass as it does on the inoffensive flower clad fields or the placid waters of the neighboring Mississippi.
Last night three lives went out in the full splendor of manhood; to-day in the homes of the departed dead is heard a piteous wail of agony-for death has taken away protectors, -father husband and brother, in an unkind way. Last night in the happy homes loving faithful wives with a song of spring gladness filling their hearts and bursting from their lips, prepared the evening repast for a loved one; sunny haired little children pressed their wee noses against the window pane and looked out eagerly into the coming night to be the first to see father.
In the various engine houses about the city, the alarm caused men and horses to quickly report to the scene of the fire, for the rumor was that the fire threatened the factory district.
The hungry waves of fire swept from one end of the massive works to the other, carrying destruction and death in their path. Stream after stream of water was sent on the building in an effort to stay the flames but with little effect; the great west wall began to sway, a hurried call was given to the firemen working on that side of the building telling them of their danger, but the men, fearless in the face of death and the effort in view to save the property, stayed on, unmindful of the warning cry. A sudden crash-cries of alarm and agony and the western wall gave way crushing under its awful weight four of the brave firemen.
Ganahl Injured in 1899Frank Ganahl, one of the dead firemen, was seriously injured by the upsetting of a hose wagon at the corner of Eighteenth and White streets, the night of December 25th, 1899. The department had been called out to a fire in the upper part of the city and in driving around the corner of Eighteenth and White streets, the cart was dashed against the curb, and Ganahl was hurled about fifteen feet, suffering a serious fracture of the skull. He was confined in the hospital for several weeks and for a time but little hope was entertained for his recovery.
Gossip of the FireStatements were made today to the effect that one of the dead men asked his fellow workmen just before the wall fell, if that it wouldn't be prudent to move back farther from the fire. The admonition was not heeded. Matt Keible, it is said, was on the ground shortly before the accident and was helping the firemen to hold the nozzle. It is reported that he was ordered out of danger by Captain Ganahl.
Will Glynn was one of the first to reach the fire. Speaking of the events before the wall fell he said the hose had broken and that one of the men was ordered to get help to repair it. If the man had remained, he too, would have been killed, said Mr. Glynn.
The plant of the Iowa Iron Works is located at Washington and Tenth streets. It is a large brick structure facing Washington street and occupying a whole block. The foundry where the fire broke out is located in the rear near the railroad tracks and is bounded on the west side with a court and several passage ways. During the day a large amount of casting had been done in the foundry, the men working until 6 o'clock. Shortly afterwards the night watchman visited the department and it is therefore presumed that a spark from the heating iron lodged in the roof and smouldering until it broke forth into flame. The roof was very dry and the flames spread rapidly. The tongues of fire leaped high in the air until they could be seen for miles around. Presently the wall fell in and then the main building to the south caught fire and in this department considerable damage was done.
The foundry is a complete ruin. The damage is not as great as was at first supposed. Last night Mr. Robert Bonson placed the loss at $20,000, but today Mr. Peter Kiene stated that it will probably be in the neighborhood of $15,000. The loss is fully covered by insurance.
A Pathetic IncidentOne of the pathetic incidents of the disaster was the parting of Charles Wise and his fifteen months' old boy.
Mr. Wise had been a volunteer fireman for some time and was always on the quivive when the alarm sounded. Last night when the bells rang he was holding his baby on his knee in his father's home. With a lingering glance at the little one Mr. Wise passed it to his father, kissed his mother good by and departed, -never to return alive.
Daniel McPoland, who was injured, is not a regular fireman, but a volunteer.
THE WORK OF RESCUEPicks were used to rescue the men. When the wall fell the brick and mortar broke into thousands of pieces and covered the firemen. McPoland was the first taken out, and he was carried to the patrol wagon and taken to the Mercy hospital. On the way thither Father Halpins of St. Patrick's church heard the injured man's confession. After McPoland was taken from the ruins the rescuers began to dig in the debris for Ganahl and Fitzpatrick. Probably a foot of brick and mortar was removed when the leg of Fitzpatrick was found bent in under him. The dirt was cleared away from the rest of his body and then he was taken out dying. He did not speak or move a muscle, but eye-witnesses say he was still alive. Death came shortly after.
Captain Ganahl was found close by. He was not dead, but lived about ten minutes. Wise was the last taken out and was mangled worse than the others. The rescuers say that he did not (know) what struck him. There was a rumor going round today that Captain Ganahl asked for a priest before he expired but the story could not be verified. All the bodies were out of the ruins ten minutes after the wall fell.
WORK AT SHOPMr. Robert Bonson of the Iowa Iron Works company stated to a Telegraph-Herald reporter that the destruction of the moulding department would in no way interfere with the work that is now being done by the company. The usual force of men went to work in the various departments to-day and will continue work as long as their assistance is required. Asked if it was the company's intention to rebuild the destroyed portion of the up-town plant, Mr. Bonson replied that work would be commenced as soon as the insurance adjusters have completed their work. The proprietors of all the other foundries in the city have tendered assistance to the company till such time as the new building is completed.
Jury Visits the SceneThe jury selected by Coroner Hoar visited the scene of the fire this morning and viewed the ruins. The inquest over the remains of the dead firemen will be held Saturday.
IS RESTING EASYReports from Mercy hospital at 3 o'clock are to the effect, that Mr. McPoland is resting easy. The surgeons have not decided whether or not amputation will be necessary.
ObituaryFrank Ganahl, one of the firemen who lost his life last night, was 32 years of age. He was a ladder man on the truck when he was nineteen years of age, afterwards serving in the capacity of tillerman.
In 1896 Mr. Ganahl was made captain of the Chemical company, which position he held up to the time of his death. His wife and three children, Margaret, Josephine and Louise, survive him; also three brothers, John, of Sageville, Theodore, of Dubuque, and Matt, of Rock Island.
The sisters left to mourn his loss are; Mrs. Mary Wolff, Mrs. Annie Ruemmel and Mrs. James Agnew, of this city.
The dead fireman was a member of the Firemen's Benevolent Association and of the Independent Order of Foresters.
FITZPATRICKJohn Fitzpatrick was the son of John Fitzpatrick, of Marshalltown, and was 38 years old. He was a lieutenant captain in the fire department and was a member of the Woodmen of the World and of the Firemen's Association. The deceased is survived by a wife and five children, also his father and two brothers, Charles of this city and henry of Lemars. The funeral will take place at 9 o'clock Sunday morning. Requiem mass will be read at St. Patrick's church. Interment will take place Saturday morning at 7:30 in St. Philomena's.
WISECharles M. Wise, one of the victims in last night's tragedy, was born in Dubuque, Oct. 4, 1876, and lived in this city all his life. Mr. Wise was a blacksmith up to the time he went to Cuba with the "Governor's Greys," Company A, Forty-ninth regiment, and he served full time. About fifteen months ago the wife of Mr. Wise died, leaving one little child. The funeral services will be held Sunday at 2 o'clock. Rev. Dr. Ruston officiating. The pallbearers will be members of company A.