Deadly Fire at Keenan & Jahn’s

Image of Detroit Hook & Ladder Co. No.8 from Detroit Historical Society   (not the firemen in this article)

SAD FATALITY.

Several Lives Lost in a Fire at Detroit This Morning.

FIVE FIREMEN KILLED.

And Quite a Number of Others are Seriously Injured.

CRUSHED BY A WALL.

One Bystander Killed and Several Injured — Loss About $60,000.

Image from the Burton Historical Collection

DETROIT,. Oct. 5. — Fire at 7:45 o’clock this morning completely gutted Keenan & Jahn’s furniture store at No. 213, 215 and 217 Woodward Avenue, entailing a loss of $60,000 on the stock and $25,000 on the building. The fire started in the boiler room and shot up the freight elevator shaft, obtaining such headway that the firemen were unable to save any portion of the building contents.

Six men were killed and four or five were severely injured by the falling of the walls.

The name of the dead are:

MICHAEL DONAGHUE, chemical engine No. 1.

PIPEMAN RICHARD DELY, engine No. 9.

PIPEMAN JOHN PAGEL, engine No. 9.

MARTIN BALL, engine company No. 9.

JULIE G. CUMMINGS, truck No. 8.

FREDERICK BUSSEY, a clerk.

The injured are:

FRED DRAHEIM, engine No. 8, badly injured.

E.E. STEVENS, chemical engine No. 1, badly injured.

MICHAEL C. GRAY, badly hurt about head and body.

LIEUT. PATRICK O’ROURKE, engine No. 8, badly injured.

F.E. STOCKS, pipeman engine No. 8.

BARTHOLOMEW CRONIN, pipeman engine No. 8.

JOHN B. NEWELL, truck No. 2.

LESLIE E. McELMURRAY, fireman.

THOMAS GURRY, fireman.

HENRY HERIG, inspector.

None of the last six maned are badly injured.

The floors of the building fell in at 9:15 o’clock, and the front and rear walls immediately collapsed. The men of Engine company No. 9, chemical No. 1 and truck No. 2 were working in the windows and doors of the ground floor in front. In the rear the men of engine No. 8 were playing on the fire from a bridge that spanned the alley. The men wee working close to the rear walls when they collapsed and they were completely imbedded in the debris. Every man in the company except the captain was more or less injured, and Frederick A. Bussey, an inspector who was standing beneath the bridge, was killed.

The work of rescue was immediately begun, and in fifteen minutes the men who had been working in the alley had been taken out.

The firemen working in the front of the building did not fare so well, however. When the first cract of the falling floors was heard the men started to run, but the walls came down on them so swiftly that all were buried under tons of brick and mortar. The walls did not fall outside of the middle of the sidewalk, and the last brick had scarcely touched the walk before the work of rescue in front began.

The first body recovered was that of Lieut. Donaghue. Then the bodies of Pagel, Dely, Cummings and Ball were taken out in succession. Michael Gray was badly injured, as was also E.E. Stevens.

The building was a five story brick with 12-inch filled walls, and it is said that it had been condemned as being unsafe. The insurance on the building foots up $10,000 and on the stock about $50,000.

Fort Wayne News (Fort Wayne, Indiana) Oct 4, 1894

Image from Shorpy (click link for huge, very detailed and awesome image)

This is Woodward Avenue in 1910. Keenan & Jahn still have a furniture store located there, but according to the following information posted at DetroitYES!, it is not on the same block as it was at the time of the fire. I am not sure if the  Keenan & Jahn Furniture store in the smaller picture above is pre-fire or post-fire, but it in the big image from Shorpy, the store is located in a corner building, while the other appears to be sandwiched between two buildings.

From DetroitYES!:

One of the persons who already commented on Shorpy about this photo has provided the wrong location for it. He apparently did not know that Detroit renumbered all of their street addresses in 1920 because he used the old 260 address on the building at the far left to provide the Google Street Views.

Using the 1910 Detroit City Directory, I’ve confirmed that that this photo was actually taken from Grand Circus Park where Park Ave. (foreground) intersects with Woodward. [Google Street View]

According to the 1910 Directory, the building on the right was the Grand Circus Bldg. at 261-271 Woodward. Its tenants included “Keenan & Jahn Furniture” (261-263), “Goodyear Raincoat Co. and Rubber Store” (265), “H.R. Leonard Furniture” (267-269) and “T.C. Mau Furrier” (269). Sharing the 271 address were “A.L. Le Gro, Dentist” and “Frederick W. MacDonald, Dentist”.

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