SEVEN LOSE LIVES IN FIRE AT SARANAC LAKE ON SATURDAY
Nineteen Guests Trapped In Rooming House, Three Die in Bed, Others Jump To Death;
Early Morning Tragedy Casts Gloom Over Mountain Village
SARANAC LAKE. N. Y. July 5,1925
(AP)—A coroner's inquest into the fire in an apartment house here early yesterday which cost the lives of seven persons is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. In addition to village officials and survivors of the fire, District Attorney Harold W. Main of Malone will be present.
The condition of Mrs. George Duckett, who suffered burns and was Injured in Jumping from a window on the third floor of the house was reported as continuing critical at the local hospital. The seven who lost their lives in the fire occupied rooms on the upper floors of the three story wooden building. Their escape was cut off by blazing stairways.
The fire was discovered at about one o'clock in the morning of July 4th, at a rooming house at 105 Broadway owned by J. J. Murphy, who lived next door. The fire house is less than l00 feet away and the firemen and the entire apparatus of the village was on the scene in just five minutes. So quickly did the fire spread through the house, which had only one stairway, that it was three hours before volunteer firemen were able to enter the building and begin the work of rescue. The victims were:
Moniky, Kenneth, 11 years old, son of Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Moniky of Saranac Lake.
Martin, Patrick, 65 years old, of Chateaugay, N. Y.
Dwyer, Peter, 55 years old, of Saranac Lake.
Duckett, George, 21 years old, of Saranac Lake.
Duckett, George, the one-year-old infant of George Duckett.
McGowan, Joseph, 21 years old, of Burlington, Vt.
McGowan, Robert, 16 years old, brother to Joseph McGowan.
Duckett, Mrs. George, burned also bruised when she jumped from the third floor. Moniky, Mrs. Charles, mother of the boy who was killed. Both the injured women were removed to the Saranac Lake Hospital. It was said there Mrs. Duckett would die.
Smoke Drives Firemen Back
So rapidly had the flames spread however, that it was impossible to enter the building. Fire Chief E. W. Harrison headed several attempts, which were invariably frustrated by smoke. Long before the firemen were able to enter the building a slight breeze blew the smoke away from the windows of the third floor, Mrs. Duckett appeared at the window. "Catch my baby!", she called to the firemen. A group of firemen gathered beneath the window with their hands outstretched and their faces turned upward. A white object was thrown out. The men caught it before it struck the ground. When they examined it they found it was a pillow from the bed. The firemen believe that Mrs. Duckett, crazed by fear, seized the pillow in mistake for her baby, who was one year old. Immediately after she threw out the pillow she jumped. She is dying at the Saranac Lake General Hospital. (NOTE: Mrs. Duckett survived and five months later was transferred to a Rochester hospital to treat a partial paralysis of her right arm and shoulder.) Her husband, who jumped after her, died at the hospital a short time after he was admitted Later the firemen found the baby, who was burned to death, on the bed. Mrs. Moniky, who made her way to the first floor, walked through a window, she was only slightly cut by glass.
The eleven persons who escaped jumped to a porch on the third floor of the building adjoining. Investigators declared there was no fire-escape on the building. Nearly three hours after the alarm had been sounded a call was issued for volunteers to enter the smoking building. Chief of Police Frank E. Sheldon was the first to respond. With him were John R. Hogan, William Tromble and Harley McDougal, all volunteer firemen.
Fighting their way through the smoke and flames the volunteers came upon the body of Dwyer. It was impossible to remain. A rope was passed to Chief Sheldon. He wrapped it about the body. Then it was pulled to a ladder and carried to the ground. Chief Sheldon then found the body of Kenneth Moniky, 11 years old. His father, Charles Moniky, who was rescued, declared the lad refused to jump.
"You go first, father," the lad said. "I will follow you." The firemen, however, found the body some distance from the window. The body of Patrick Martin was found near the window where he had collapsed. Joseph McGowan and Robert McGowan, brothers, both of Burlington, Vt., arrived in Saranac Lake last night. They entered the house just a few hours before the fire started. They were found dead in bed.
This afternoon District Attorney Harold W. Main of Franklin County arrived here accompanied by Lieutenant E. J. Helm, Troop B. New York State Police, with headquarters at Malone, N.Y, made an inspection of the ruins.
Mr. Main declared he was satisfied the fire was not of incendiary origin. He declared a Coroner's inquest will be held Monday afternoon. "At that time," he stated, "we will determine if any one is criminally responsible." Lieutenant Helm, however, advanced the statement that the fire safeguards of the building were subject to a local ordinance, and, as far as he could learn, there had been no violation. This statement was followed by declarations from village officials that a drastic ordinance would be framed at once.
The fire was one of the worst In the history of the Adirondacks. It threw the entire territory, flagdecked for the Fourth of July, into gloom. A group of New York performers, who were here for a benefit performance for the Saranac Lake Day Nursery, which was given under the direction of William Morris Jr., of New York, were active in the relief work among the survivors, who had lost all their possesions.
Mr. Morris took up a collection at the afternoon and night performances for them. The money will be distributed under the direction of the local Red Cross Chapter.
Mr. Morris also announced that the performers, who included Cecelia (Cissie) Loftus, Sylvio Hein and other stars, had offered to stay here and stage a special benefit for the fire sufferers Sunday. This offer was communicated to the village board.(NOTE: The lot on 105 Broadway later held a used furniture store which was eventually torn down and used for the expanded fire station.)