An Early Morning Blaze – 1898

The Residence of Dr. H.S. Turner on Pleasant Street Badly Damaged by Fire – Probably of Incendiary Origin

Editor’s Note: In recognition of National Fire Prevention Week, City of Norwich Fire Chief Tracy Chawgo has shared some of the department’s archives and journals reporting on the earliest recorded fires in the city. Each day this week, we’ll present a selection from those early records.

As reported by The Morning Sun on July 31, 1898

About three o’clock Sunday morning, Norwich was awakened by the first alarm of fire since the installation of the new alarm system. There was no uncertainty about the location. The whistle sounded the general alarm and the bell at the engine house rang out clearly and distinctly 3-8. Those who were provided with signal cards, or had been thoughtful enough to clip the list of signals from The Morning Sun, could see at a glance that the alarm was from the box corner of Pleasant and Canasawacta streets. The fire proved to be in the house, near that corner, occupied by Dr. H. S. Turner.

When first discovered the blaze was confined to the back porch, which was burning furiously and could not be extinguished by the means at hand. The alarm was immediately given and neighbors quickly responded and lent a helping hand to rescue the contents of the house. On the arrival of the firemen, nearly all the furniture in the front rooms had been carried to a place of safety. The fire was now raging fiercely. The entire back portion of the structure was enveloped by the flames, which were fast gaining headway. But the hose companies on their arrival did efficient work and in a short time had the flames under control. The damage to the house from fire and water will probably amount to $500. The loss on the furniture, which was not insured, is estimated at $200.



The fire was undoubtedly the work of an incendiary, as those who were first on the scene all agree that it started from the outside. Further than this no clue has yet been obtained as to its origin.

A Sunday Morning Blaze.

The House Occupied by Dr. H. S. Turner Discovered in Flames – Saved by Hard Work – Fire of Incendiary Origin.

As reported by The Telegraph July 31, 1898

The house owned by Howard D. Newton and occupied by Dr. H. S. Turner on Pleasant street, was discovered to be on fire at three o’clock Sunday morning, by the son of Solomon White, who lives next door east of Mr. Turner. The alarm was quickly turned in and the three hose companies and the hook and ladder company responded. At the time of the discovery of the fire it was located on the back porch, along the east side of the kitchen, and was fast gaining an entrance to the interior of the upright part and the kitchen. By quick and energetic work on the part of the firemen, under the direction of Second Assistant Engineer Cary, Chief Latham being at Chenango Lake, the fire was soon under control. The piazza was entirely burned off and the outside and inside of the kitchen part badly damaged. The furniture in the front rooms was nearly all carried to a place of safety by Mr. Turner and his neighbors, and escaped serious damage, except by handling. The house, which was insured was damaged to the extent of about $500 by fire and water, and on the furniture, upon which Mr. Turner had no insurance, the loss is estimated at about $200.

The origin of the fire is a mystery, Mr. Turner having had no fire in or about the house since early Saturday morning. He was alone at the time and had retired at about 10:30 o’clock that evening, and was sleeping soundly when aroused by the pounding on his door and the yelling of fire by his neighbors. There is everything to show that it was of incendiary origin being started from the outside and at a time in the night when few people are stirring. This is the second fire in that part of the town laid to the work of incendiaries, and it begins to look very much as though Norwich had a firebug.

The alarm Sunday morning was the first one turned in on the new Gamewell system recently introduced here, and it was entirely satisfactory as far as we have learned. The first tap of the bell was heard in most instances, and the clear strokes ringing out 3-8 told at once that the alarm came from the third ward, box 38, corner of Canasawacta and Pleasant streets. Both the bell and the general alarm, the latter from the old whistle removed to the O. & W. round house, were clearly heard at Chenango Lake and at other places in the county, and it is quite evident that Norwich’s fire alarm system is fully up to the expected standard.

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