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From the archives | May 8

Left field stands damaged badly in Fenway Park fire

Third base bleachers total loss, grandstand damaged

Swept by a brisk northwest wind, fire which started early last evening in the bleachers at Fenway Park leaped to the roof of the grandstand, then spread to three lots filled with rubbish and brush, splitting into five distinct fires before it was finally extinguished. Three alarms were sounded. The blaze caused $25,000 damage, It threatened for a time to spread to apartment houses and business offices in the vicinity.

Two hours of difficult fighting was required before the firemen had the blaze extinguished. The first alarm was sent in at 6:45 and it was not until nearly 9 o’clock that the last of the brush fires was put out. The second alarm was sounded by Chief Daniel F. Sennott 10 minutes after the first, while the third was rung in by Lieut John Good, aid to the chief, at 7:16.


Two men injured

Two men were injured in fighting the blaze, but neither required hospital treatment. Lieut Good received painful lacerations of the face when he slipped while descending a steel pillar, which supports the roof of the grandstand. After losing his grasp on the pillar, he regained it and managed to cling on and avoid a bad fall to the seats below.

Art Sousa, an employee of the S.S. Pierce Company, one of the volunteers who aided in fighting the fire before the arrival of the apparatus, received a severe cut on one hand when he tripped over a grandstand seat while directing a line on the burning roof.

The fire was discovered by John Stack, a park employee. He shouted to Louis Fishera, taxicab driver, who was driving along Jersey st, and the latter drove to the nearest box and sounded the alarm. As soon as he had been given warning to Fishers, Stack raced back to the scene of the fire and directed the work of employees in manning the park’s fire-fighting system.


Volunteers help fight fire

Art Sousa, Jess Davis and William Caswell, employees of the S.S. Pierce Company, were leaving a nearby garage when they saw the smoke. They ran to the scene and assisted park employees in their work.

The first started in the third-base bleachers, near the famous Duffy’s cliff. It burned through the wooden fence on Landsdowne st and so heavily damaged the third-base bleachers that they are a total loss. But for a fire wall between the bleachers and the automobile accessory stores on Brookline av, from 64 to 76, the flames would have spread to those buildings.

Caught by the win, the blaze leaped into the grandstand, burning about 200 seats, and then jumped to the edge of the roof. Embers were swept along the roof to the plank walk leading to the press stand, and set that afire. The roof was heavily damaged, as was the rear of the press box.

Bookkeeper’s valuable aid

Before the apparatus arrived in response to the first alarm, the flames jumped from the bleachers to the roof.

One of the features of the fire was the coolness of Miss Mary Lynch, bookkeeper at the park. She had just left the office and was part way to Governor sq to catch a car when she saw the smoke and ran back. She rushed into the office and called Fire headquarters. Learning that apparatus was already on the way, she telephoned the various officials of the club and told them of the serious fire.


Then she was called upon to administer first-aid treatment to the two men who were injured. After this was accomplished, she found other duties which kept her busy throughout the fire.

From the roof of the grandstand, sparks were blown across the ball club’s automobile parking space to the lot bounded by the parking space, Ipswich, Jersey, and Boylston sts. The flames burned over this entire lot, to the wall of the building occupied by the American LaFrance Fire Engine Company.

Gasoline tanks threatened

Across Jersey st the flames were swept by the wind into the lot between Jersey and Kilmarnock sts, where brush had been cut and allowed to dry for some time. This burned furiously, threatening for a time to spread to Standard Oil Company’s gasoline station at the corner of Jersey and Boylston sts. It had burned to within 15 yards of the nearest gas tank before it was put out.

In that lot the blaze threatened so badly that Chief Sennott was forced to call for volunteers. Scores of boys and young men leaped to the aid of firemen at his call, and assisted in dragging and directing the lines of hose on the first.

Embers from the brush filled the air along Boylston st. These set fire to the brush in another lot across Boylston st, bounded by Jersey, Kilmarnock, Boylston and Peterboro sts, nearly quarter of a mile from where the original fire started in the bleachers.


Because of the extent of the fire, it was necessary to lay unusually long lines of hose. This decreased the water pressure, seriously hampering the firemen. One line was fully 1,400 feet in length, Chief Sennott said, and other lines nearly as long.

Street car and vehicular traffic along Boylston st was cut off during the fire, because of the necessity of laying hose across the street. Sergts Orrington Waugh and Dennis Shea, in charge of a detail police from the Back Bay station, had all traffic within the burning area rerouted.

The cause of the fire was not learned.