Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Policemen and Detectives Guard the Securities Buried in the Fire Ruins,

January 10, 1912, [ ? ] "Policemen and Detectives Guard the Securities Buried in the Fire Ruins,"
Streams of Water Still Playing Upon the Smouldering Timbers of Wrecked Equitable Building.


All the Safes, Holding Paper Worth Half a Billion Dollars or More, Are Believed to Be Intact
Body of Battalion Chief Walsh Not Yet Recovered

New York, January 10, 1912 --- Half a billion dollars or more in securities lie on the glowing ruins of the Equitable Building to-day guarded by 140 policemen and detectives.

The bulk of the Gould, Harriman, Ryan and Belmont estates and the vast securities of the Equitable Life Assurance Society are locked in the massive steel vaults, buried beneath tons of debris.

With streams still playing upon the smoulderng ruins, laborers are fighting their way to the vaults to ascertain their condition.

All the vaults are believed to be intact.

A superficial examination made today indicated that the vaults of the Mercantile Safe Deposit were intact.

The ruins still hold the body of Battalion Chief William Walsh, two watchmen employed by the company are also missing and are believed to have perished in the fire, in which six lives were lost.

Because $50,000,000 to $75,000,000 in collateral of Wall street loans are locked in the vaults, the governing committee of the Stock Exchange announced today another postponement of one day in deliveries.

The records of the Harriman Railroad lines, showing the names and addresses.....


A white, hot furnace still glowed fiercely in the cellars of the ruined Equitable Building at daybreak to-day, resisting all the efforts of the firemen to drown out the flames. Chief Kenton doubted whether the fire would be completely extinguished before night.

The blaze is now confined, however, to the heaped up ruins in the cellars, for above the first story nothing is left save the granite walls, bearded with great encrustrations of gleaming ice.

Pilasters and ornaments bear coatings of ice, which in some places is two feet thick, while the surface of Broadway and the other streets surrounding the ruins are sheathed with ice to a depth of from one to two feet.

All night long, under the glare of three powerful search lights from the Singer Tower, ice-covered firemen poured in streams from twenty nozzles.

Until the flames are completely extinguished little effort can be made to reach the vaults where securities and papers valued at $1,500,000,000 are stored.

Rigid Police Line Maintained

A rigid police line is maintained on all sides of the burned building and the cordon covers so wide an area that the thousands of sightseers, who flocked to the scene are unable to obtain more than a glimpse of the structure.

In addition to the established lid maintained by the police, 100 policemen and 40 detectives are assigned to the task of preventing the theft of any money or securities still in the building.

There were no additions to the list of casualties during the early morning hours to-day. The official police blotter gives six dead, two missing and twenty-three injured.

One of the dead is still unidentified, and the body of William J. Walsh battalion chief of the fire department, has not yet been recovered.

The body of William Campion, captain of the watchmen for the Mercantile Safe Depsoit Company, was visible at daybreak through the iron grating at the entrance of the compnay's door

The other three dead are Joseph Conti, Sazzio and Massena Fratta, all employees of the retarurant where the blaze started.

The missing men are two watchmen employed by the safe deposit company.

Tenants in New Quarters

Most of the 137 tenants of the burned building were established in new headquarters in neary-by skyscrapers to-day. The Equitable Life executives found themselves amply provided for on three floors of the City Investing Buildking, a block away. ....

No Definite Action at Once

A statement by E. E. Rittenhouse, conservation commissioner for the Equitable, says that no definite action will be taken for a few days.

"As a matter of fact," he says, "there has been some talk of late to the effect that a life insurance company ought not to have a big building. Anyhow, no definite decision has yet been made."

In the present condition of the real estate market in the Wall street section it may prove that the interests of the policyholders would be best served by selling the present site and erecting another building on a less expensive frontage.

Fire officials believe that early estimates of the loss from the fire will be largely discounted. They believe that practically all of the securities and papers of real value are safe in the vaults. As for the building iteslf, although it cost millions to construct, yet its loss has actually added to the value of the most valuable block in New York.

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