Bad Fire in Hampton

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The Hamptons Union

Thursday, September 12, 1912

The most disastrous fire which the town of Hampton has had in a long time destroyed the Mason house and stable with all the out buildings, the long shed of Thomas Cogger, damaged the dwelling houses of Mrs. Chase and Capt. Hayes and the large barn of Thomas Cogger.

The flames were first discovered about 2:30 Saturday afternoon, and at that time the barn was enveloped in flames, although Frank S. Mason, the proprietor, had been inside not much more than half an hour previously and, so far as he knew everything was all right. He was in the village when discovery of the fire was made known and his hired man was also at the barber shop. Mrs. Mason was in Haverhill.

The newly organized fire department responded promptly to the first call. The Captain of the Company and two lieutenants and many of the men were within easy reach and were quickly on the scene with the extinguishers. Elmer King, Chief of the company, was running on the electrics between Hampton and Amesbury, on the return trip to Hampton and relieved by Roy Shaw, who had been notified by telephone, when Mr. King's car reached there, so that the Chief was not very much behind the rest of the department.

Then began the hardest fight against the flames ever put up anywhere, and all things considered it was wonderfully successful. The out buildings, which were the first burned, covered so large an area and consumed when the fire was discovered was greatly against the fire company. The absence of hooks for ripping down frame work was a costly deficiency in the fire apparatus for the tearing down of the long shed connecting the main house with other buildings in the rear before the flames reached them, would have saved the front part of the house. In the absence of this pulling down apparatus it was an impossibility to check the steady progress of the fire, for the shed acted as a horizontal flue through which was drawn great volumes of thick, black smoke and an intense heat, preventing the firemen from entering and working on the inside, and on the outside the chemicals had little effect. The result was the main part of the house was early doomed to destruction, and as seemed sometimes Mrs. Chase's house on the east and perhaps half a dozen on the west.

As soon as the seriousness of the conflagration was recognized the Selectmen telephoned to Portsmouth and Exeter for assistance. Portsmouth sent out an Electric Chemical and men, but were very late arriving, as the chemical was out on a Portsmouth fire when the call was received, and they had to return to headquarters, recharge their chemical and secure their Chief. Exeter sent down a quantity of hose and apparatus and men on a trolley and started the steamer, but before the cutter arrived, the fire was under control, and the Exeter men were used to relieve the Hampton company who were nearly exhausted.

Chief King had his company of twenty five, the Hampton Beach company and as many volunteers as could be secured, but even then there were too few men, as there were so many points to defend. At one time the Mason property, Thomas Cogger's big barn, Capt. Hayes' house, Elmer King's barn were all on fire at once and Mrs. Chase's ready to burst into flames at any moment. The fire fighters had to be divided among all these dangers and at the same time it was necessary to concentrate the utmost effort upon the advancing flames in the Mason house to save the adjoining dwellings. It seemed impossible, but the firemen won, and too much praise cannot be extended to them. Capt. Hayes' house was very badly burned, but, thanks to a constant stream of chemicals played on it by Ray Hazelton in the midst of a heat that almost paralyzed and to the front of the house had a sheet iron roof, the fire was held in check and finally conquered.

Two firemen were overcome by the intense heat. Gerald Smith, who was employed upon the low roof on the west side of Cogger's barn, dropped unconscious and was carried away by his assistants, but he quickly revived and went on with the work. Irving Drake fared worse and had to be taken to his home.

The household effects of Mrs. Chase and Charles White, of Capt. Hayes, and a part from some other houses to the west were removed as well as most of that in the main portion of the Mason house, but a large number of bedsteads in this section and everything to the rear was a total loss, and a very heavy one to Mr. Mason. All his farming tools, wagons, hay, hens, a pig, everything he had in that line was destroyed except his horses. There was insurance of three thousand placed through Abbott Norris, but his loss was several thousand above that. Such goods as were saved are now stored in the old Lane store.

Thomas Cogger lost, with his long shed, his sleds, ice tools, farming tools, etc., entailing a loss of close to $1,000, with an insurance of only $300. If the big barn had gone, as it seemed likely at one time, his loss would have been very heavy.

Mrs. Chase's and Charles White's loss is due largely to the damage in removing them to a safe place and is considerable. The damage to the house is small. They have an insurance of $1500 in the Granite State Insurance company.

Capt. Hayes' loss will be quite heavy. The east end of the house will have to be rebuilt and there is some damage to the iron roof, also some damage by removal of goods. He had some insurance placed with Dana Baker of Exeter. The cause of the fire still remains a mystery.

Hampton News (Excerpts)

Whether Frank S. Mason will rebuild upon the site of the Mason house is uncertain. He is rather discouraged from so doing because of the fact that he has had three fires which have destroyed his buildings and each has been pretty near a dead loss to him

The burning of the barn on the Mason property revealed a small store room built of stone beneath the barn, the existence of which was probably known to but a few persons. It is presumed that it was used for a liquor room in days gone by, where quantities of intoxicants could be stored without danger of discovery.

Chief King of the fire department would like an exchange of the three lanterns which were taken from the ruins of the fire by mistake. Those belong to the department are new ones.

The advantage of organization was well proven at the Mason fire, when the Boy Scouts did such valiant work. They worked systematically and untiring and aided greatly the men who were working to save adjacent houses by keeping filled the numerous milk cans with water. The Scout Master has reason to feel proud of his work and his boys. They come from all parts of the town, Harold Batchelder from Bride Hill, Wallace and Phillip Blake from Blakeville and the Garland boys from the East end, and all along these lines.

Everett Nudd, who has been boarding at the Mason house, is now with his sister, Mrs. Ray Haselton and two other boarders, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Stone are with Mrs. E. D. Berry.

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