The general alarm fire which seriously damaged expensive construction work on the new center and right-field bleachers at Fenway Park yesterday afternoon will not prevent the rejuvenated Red Sox from opening the 1934 season at their own rebuilt ball park on schedule, officials of the baseball club announced last night.
“We may have to rebuild a large part of the bleachers we had just finished behind center and right field, but we still believe that the entire job of reconstructing Fenway Park will be completed by April 1, a full fortnight before we play our first game,” Eddie Collins, general manager of the Red Sox, said.
Loss exceeds $250,000
Yesterday afternoon’s fire, one the most disastrous in recent Boston history, started shortly after 1 o’clock, and before the all-out signal was finally sounded yesterday evening, damage estimated at more than a quarter of a million dollars had been caused to the bleachers and to five nearby buildings which came in the range of the flames. Virtually the entire loss, it was reported, is covered by insurance.
The conflagration spread with amazing rapidity, sweeping across Landsdowne st to gut completely two brick structures and seriously damage two others.
The three-story brick building occupied by the Seiberling Rubber Company, at 41 Landsdowne st, and an adjacent building now vacant, were both so seriously damaged that they will probably have to be entirely reconstructed. The building occupied by the Olds Motor Company and the Pontiac Sales Corporation, a long, four-story brick structure, at 65 Landsdowne set, was damaged at one end, while the Regent Garage, at No. 27, on the other side of the two gutted buildings was also damaged.
700 workers aid firemen
The huge building housing the Fenway Garage and the Checker Cab Garage, which extends from Ipswich st through to Landsdowne st, also suffered considerable damage. The fact that the first firemen arriving on the scene concentrated their efforts at this point is probably responsible for saving the building. It was closer to the actual conflagration than any other structure. An official of the Checker Cab Company estimated damage at $25,000, including the scorching of the paint on a score of cabs.
Despite many close calls, no one was seriously injured. Firemen and 700 men employed on the construction job at Fenway Park were hampered in fighting the fire by dense smoke and slippery, icy footing, but with few exceptions, all escaped injury.
A 110-foot steel-hoisting boom crashed to the ground near many men a few moments after the fire started, nut no one was beneath the heavy derrick when the heat of the flames snapped the cables that supported it.
Yawkey in South
The extent to which Thomas A. Yawkey, new and ambitious owner of the Red Sox, will be forced to rebuild the virtually completed center and right field bleachers must also wait on a thorough investigation by the construction engineers.
Sections of the stands were completed as long as two weeks ago, and it is assumed that these were sufficiently “set” to withstand the heat satisfactorily. Whether the newer sections withstood it remains to be seen. At any rate, the 700 men already employed at Fenway Park have plenty of work to do completing the renovation of the rest of the park on schedule.
“If we have to rebuild sections of the bleachers involved in the fire, and I’ll be surprised if we don’t, we’ll look on it as just another construction job, and hire additional men,” Eddie Collins said last night.
Yawkey is now in South Carolina, but he was informed of the fire yesterday afternoon. Collins said that the Red Sox owner contemplated no hurried return to Boston on account of the fire.
“What could he do? It’s just one of those things. He’ll probably get back on the 15th, as originally planned,” Collins said.
To open on schedule
Collins said that the first he learned of the fire was when Joe Morano, the Red Sox bat boy, rushed into the ball club’s office. He was so excited that he could say nothing for a minute. Finally, he gathered himself enough to stammer, “F-f-f-f-fire.”
Collins donned rubber boots and a slicker and rushed out, fearful lest his boss’ dream of a Red Sox opening in a handsome new ball park this Spring be thwarted.
Later, while firemen were still pouring water on the cooling embers, Collins breathed a sigh of relief. The Red Sox will start on schedule.
Judge Fuchs, president of the Braves, hastened to assure Eddie Collins that if as a result of the fire Fenway Park would not be ready for use at the opening of the season, he would be glad to have the Red Sox make use of Braves Field as long as they desired to use it.