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Worst Fire In Several Years

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Milan, Mich. Nov., 13.- Just after the factories had shut down for noon, and the schools let out, the fire bell commenced to ring and smoke was seen issuing from the Michigan Telephone Co.'s exchange office in the Blackmer block on Main street.

Manager Whyland P. Gregory says that when he took the switch board to relieve the operator, Miss Ethel Ferman, to go to her luncheon, he went to open the back door to examine the batteries, and found the room all blaze. He came out in front to get fresh air and returning took a blanket endeavoring to smother the flames, which then burst out, enveloping him entirely. He then took another blanket, and wrapping it around himself, started to run out, and was severely burned on the hands and arms.

The volunteer fire company got out their apparatus and aided by many townsmen, soon had two streams playing on the fire, one being pumped by Wila P. Lanikin's engine at the electric light power house, and one by the village pump.

About the time the firemen succeeded in getting the streams playing on the fire, which had then gotten very fierce, the large plate glass in the telephone office broke from the heat and fell after which they worked at a great disadvantage. They finally succeeded in subduing the fire on the first floor.

Ladders were secured and they broke in the windows of William J. Schuenight's law office, where the fire seemed to be the fiercest.

The smoke had so filled the rooms and they being very dark, the firemen could not make much headway. Finally they got one hose up the stairway and another stream through the rear of Farrington & Blackmer's store in the second floor, and then discovered the fact that the fire was smouldering in the two back rooms, which were filled with household goods in storage.

There being no back windows, it was extremely dark and the smoke had so filled the halls that it seemed as though they could do nothing. After several minutes, which seemed like hours, the firemen had the blaze under control, and soon had it entirely put out. It was necessary to break in the doors and chop holes in the walls to get at the blaze.

It was over an hour after the blaze was discovered by Mr. Gregory, that they succeeded in subduing it. 

J. F. Dexter, chief of the fire department, was very cool, and together with firemen Fred Wilson, John Cook, Lincoln Schmitt and Clarence F. Needham, are deserving of great credit for their good faithful work.

Old residents say that it was the most stubborn fire to fight that Milan has ever seen, and she has seen three large fires. Walter Frisbie, who has a shoe shop in the next door to the telephone office, on the east side, succeeded in moving everything of value from his store.

Earl Sweet was fortunate enough to get out all his barber shop fixtures in the west side of the telephone office.

 William J. Schuenight, whose law offices are in the rooms over the telephone exchange, is out of town, and none of his books or fixtures and office furniture were removed. The greatest damage to his goods will be from the water, and will probably amount to $100, which Is covered by insurance. Mr. Schuenight's dog which had in some manner been left in the office, was suffocated. The men could hear him barking, but in the clouds of smoke could not catch him.

The loss to the Michigan Telephone Co., who had only a few days since had completed their local exchange, will be in the neighborhood of $1,150, not insured, so states one of their solicitors who is here.

Whyland P. Gregory, manager of the local telephone exchange, will have a loss on personal fixtures, cigar stock, etc, of about $300 with no insurance.

Mrs. Sadie Heston, of this place, and Mr. Charles W. Smoot, of Danville,Ill., who was formerly day agent at Cone, will have a considerable loss on their furniture, which was stored on the second floor, where the fire was the fiercest. T

The Grand Army of the Republic, whose lodge is on the third floor, was not harmed in the least.

It looked for a time as though the whole block would burn and the grocery and crockery store of Farrington & Blackmer, be also burned, as it was their loss was very small.

Charles M. Blackmer, who owns the building, says that he is unable as yet, to estimate his loss. He is partially insured in the Hanover Fire Insurance Co., of New York.

The Michigan Telephone Co. soon had a state line in working order, by Mr. Steinbach, superintendent of construction, who happened to be in town, but their local exchange is a total loss, and it will be some time before local service can be resumed.

John Cook, one of the volunteer firemen, was suffocated by the smoke and brought out by the others, and now lies at his home on Wabash avenue, in a critical condition.

Whyland P. Gregory had his hands severely burned and is in a serious condition at the home of T. W. Barnes on east Main street.

Considering that the fire was in such a remote part of the building and had gained such a headway, nearly everyone feels thankful, and that it is a wonder that the whole block did not burn.

Some water went through the walls into the dry goods store of Alfred E. Putnam on River street, but the damage is slight.                     REDMAN.