January 6, 1908


Two Heroes Carry Crippled Woman
From Blazing Rooming House.
Three Buildings Destroyed.
Loss $40,000.

Forty-two head of horses, most of which were roadsters owned by business and professional men, perished in a fire that destroyed the Jockey Club livery and boarding stables at 446 Minnesota avenue, Kansas City, Kas., last night shortly after 8 o'clock. A number of the animals were family buggy horses and were boarded at the stable by the owners. In addition to the livery stable loss, the hardware establishment of F. & F. Horseman, at 905 and 907 North Fifth street, and the tin shop of Cashman & Beard, at 909 North Fifth street, were burned. These buildings, which were small frame structures, were reduced to ashes and the contents totally destroyed. The aggregate loss caused by the conflagration is estimated at about $40,000, a small percentage of which is covered by insurance.

Not the least thrilling incident during the fire was the daring rescue of Mrs. Eliza Johnson, a crippled woman, from her room on the second floor of E. M. La Veine's rooming house at 901 North Fifth street. Mrs. Johnson, both of whose legs were amputated some years ago, was left helpless in her room when the smoke from the blaze next door filled the house. La Veine's house was ablaze when Patrolman Edward Fraker and Fireman Charles Abram found their way up the back stairs and carried her through the smoke and flames to a rear window and down a ladder. Mrs. Lottie Hartley, who had previously escaped from the same building, fainted when she saw the rescuers enter the building to save Mrs. Johnson.


The fire was discovered by James McGuire, a stable hand, who noticed smoke issuing form the basement of the barn where a number of the horses were kept. He gave the alarm to several other employes of the stable who were sitting in the office, and before an investigation could be made flames commenced to shoot through the first floor of the building from the basement. An alarm was turned into fire headquarters, and while the stable is only a block from the city hall the flames had gained considerable headway before the first stream of water was turned on. he firemen did rapid work, but the water pressure was so weak that little could be done to check the fire until the steamers were brought into play.

As near as could be estimated last night by Emmett W. Uhrich, proprietor of the stable, there were fifty-one horses in the barn at the time the fire broke out. Thirty-seven of these were in stalls on the second floor of the barn and the remaining fourteen were in the basement. Immediate attention was given to the imprisoned animals, but the smoke and fire had maddened them and it was almost impossible to get them out of their stalls. Many were released from their halters and started out of the barn, but in their frightened condition they would invariably rush back into their stalls. Of the total number in the barn only nine were rescued.

The fire spread rapidly and when the hay was reached the flames burst forth as if fed by oil. He hardware store and tin shop, which adjoined the barn on Fifth street, were soon in flames and, as the buildings were old frame structures, they burned like kindling. At one time a large number of business houses in the vicinity of Fifth street and Minnesota avenue were endangered.


While the fire was at its height and the firemen fighting desperately to get control of it thousands of cartridges began exploding in the ruins of the hardware store. Two or three kegs of powder also exploded. This made the work of the firemen hazardous, but they stuck to their posts of duty.

It is said the fire started in the northwest corner of the basement among the hay bales there. Probably it was spontaneous combustion, as some of the bales were wet when put into storage a few days ago, and the barn is heated by steam pipes, which also run through the basement.

James McGuire, who turned in the alarm, says of the origin of the fire:

"I was coming up the street from Minnesota avenue, when I saw flames issuing from a window in the basement. I stooped and, looking in, saw horses in great commotion within the barn. One of them, a beautiful animal, had his nosed pressed through the broken pane of a window farther down on the west side of the building, as though pleading for rescue."

G. A. Vaughn, foreman of the stables, who lived on the second floor in the southeast corner of the barn with his wife, was sitting at a piano idly drumming on the keys. Suddenly he thought he smelled smoke, and, turning, saw a thin column arising from a nail hole in the floor near the entrance from the loft.

Vaughn says he had just time to help throw out some of the smaller articles of value in the room and help his wife escape. All his personal effects to the value of $1,200 were destroyed.