NEW YORK-- Weak from illness and a patient in the New York hospital, Edward Slevin, a member of Hook and Ladder Company No. 12, sought and found the source of the smoke, which was filling wards and private rooms at the hospital, battered his way through a locked door and held a smouldering fire in check until the arrival of apparatus.
The damage from the fire, which was discovered in the laundry room of the institution, was slight. Charring clothing, however, sent off clouds of pungent smoke which, drifting up through the laundry chute, awoke sixty patients in the private wing of the hospital and kept a quickly called staff of nurses and interns busy for an hour calming their fright.
Throughout the private wing and the public section of the hospital, connected with the former by an iron bridge, attendants prepared to move the patients should it become necessary.
Awakened by less heavy smoke, the 200 patients in the public wing were quickly calmed.
It was in this wing that Slevin slept. For several days he had been on a rigorously limited diet preparatory to an operation and was weak. But his nostrils caught the odor of smoke long before it aroused those to whom it was less familiar.
Wrapping a bathrobe tightly about him, Slevin grabbed a fire ax and set out in search of the fire. He quickly located the source of the smoke clouds in the private wing and ran across the bridge in the rain. Finding the door leadlng to the basement locked, he battered it down with his ax, discovering the laundry chute in flames.
In the meantime James Maroney, assistant superintendent at the hospital, smelled smoke at his desk in the public section of the Institution. He followed the foreman across the bridge to discover that the smoke had spread through the nine floors of the private wing. Maroney turned in an automatic fire alarm and also sounded a signal calling all nurses and interns to their posts.
Maroney reached the burning laundry room just as Slevin seized a flre extinguisher and began to play its contents on the blaze. The fire centered in a great pile of clothing which had been dropped through the chute and the stream from the extinguisher could do little more than hold it in check.
The assistant superintendent and four ambulance drivers, Sylvester Burke, J.J. Fitzgerald, Frank McGowan and Charles White joined Slevin in fighting the flre. Flre engines arriving simultaneously on Sixteenth and Fifteenth streets- the building is between them- not far west of Fifth avenue- aroused those patients who had not been awakened by the smoke. Near panic conditions prevailed in some of the wards until attendants were able to assure patients that the fire was out.
A few streams of water quickly extinguished the flre, which had not gained great headway. It apparently was caused when a lighted cigar or cigarette or some other burning substance was dropped in the bin.
Indianapolis (Indiana) Star, June 1, 1924.