AFTER the flood, the fire. Terrible havoc was done at the railroad bridge, before the water had fairly subsided, by the burning of wreckage. Innumerable bodies, many dead, many living still when the flames reached them, were utterly consumed, or charred beyond recognition. The great and ghastly mass smouldered on, day after day, defying all human attempts to extinguish it. But at last rain did the work. It was found desirable, however, to rekindle the fires. There were thousands of tons of wreckage that could best be disposed of in that way. So the workmen began lighting fires at many points, and soon the air was pillared with ascending columns of smoke, as though the whole town had been suddenly restored by magic, and its countless chimneys were again at work.

Unhappily, one day—June 24th—a fierce wind sprang tip and caught the guardians of Johnstown napping. Sparks and cinders were blown about and scattered far and wide, at first unnoticed.

Presently there was an alarm of fire. Some of the buildings spared by the flood were menaced by the flames. There were some Philadelphia firemen on the spot, with three engines, and they set to work manfully to subdue this new scourge. But in vain. The city water-works were in bad shape. There were few hydrants available, and even these were far from the fire. Several buildings were entirely consumed before the engines could be set to work. The stricken survivors of the flood looked on in hopeless dismay. It seemed as though the little there was left was to be snatched from them. But the firemen worked like heroes, and within an hour had the flames under control, though many of the houses and much of the debris in the burning district were still aflame. From these the flames spread to adjoining houses and lumber, until all but three wrecked structures in the district bounded by Market and Walnut Streets, and by Main Street and the river were consumed. About twenty-five buildings were burned, of which probably one-third could have been moved back upon their foundations. The three brick schoolhouses on the Market Street lot, which had been only slightly damaged by the flood, were entirely destroyed; so also were. the residences of Messrs. John Allendorfer and John W. Leigh, which, though floated from their foundations, were in such good condition that both would have been moved back again. None of the houses, so far as learned, were occupied, though some of them contained household goods. In several cases these were rescued, but the fire spread so rapidly that much material was consumed before it could be reached.

Dr, Walters lost five hundred dollars worth of books, household goods, etc., which he had saved from the wreck. Among the other houses burned were those of D. J. Jones, J. W. Stevens, E. W. Jones, David E. James, and William J., Lewis. An immense crowd of people gathered about the fire, and the work of the firemen was thus greatly impeded. General Wiley at three o'clock ordered out every soldier in camp, under arms, and they were immediately marched down to the scene of the fire. The loss reached over thirty thousand dollars. General Hastings says the fire was started by children who were playing workmen, and imitating the men who were building fires to burn the debris. The flames were effectually checked only by tearing down the houses in their path.

Johnstown | Mother Nature 1 | Contents Page

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