Sunday, July 15, 2012

1904 - Fire Hose Attacks Crowd

Nozzle Slipped from Man's Grasp, Injuring Several.
Moved Like Huge Serpent, Striking Persons on Head and Breaking Kenneth H. Gayle's Leg. Special to The Washington Post.

Norfolk, Va., Aug. 20 During the test of a fire engine in Portsmouth tonight Kenneth H. Gayle was severely injured, and the engine, which had just arrived from the factory, was severely disabled. Shortly after 6 o'clock tonight, when the test began, the nozzle slipped from the grasp of the man directing the hose and threw hundreds of gallons of water into a crowd of spectators. Edward Broughton was struck on the head by the nozzle, and Edward Alexander was knocked to the ground and severely injured.

Mr. Gayle was conversing with Chief Murden, of the Portsmouth fire department, and before any one could go to the assistance of the unfortunate man the line of hose, which was wildly sweeping the street with its serpentine coils, would around the body fo the prostrate man. Mr. Gayle was quickly extricated from his perilous position, and it was found that he was suffering from a compound fracture of the leg and other injuries.

Matthew Glenn, fifteen years old, was also struck by the heavy nozzle and received a severe scalp wound. The engine was immediately shut down after the first series of accidents, and shortly after 7 o'clock preparations were made for the second test. The engine was started and the safety-valve immediately blew out, almost creating a panic among the large crowd. The escape of steam from the boiler broke the glass in the windows of the residence of Mrs. Ivey Luke, of 1300 Washington street. Mrs. Luke, who was standing in the door of her home, was knocked down, but was not seriously injured.

The Washington Post, Washington, DC
August 21, 1904