February 3, 1908
BUILDING WAS IN FLAMES
MRS. HILDA HOLMQUEST.
Who Heeded an Excited Crowd's Advice to Leap From a Burning Building, and was seriously hurt.
Cut off from escape by the stairs in a fire in 406 Landis court yesterday afternoon, Mrs. Hilda Holmquest rushed to a rear fire escape three floors above the paved alley, with another woman's child in her arms and stood a moment dazed while flames shot up at her from a window on the floor beneath. It seemed impossible for her to descend the ladder through the flames and the excited crowd below cried to her to jump.
"Oh, take the baby," she said, "it is not mine."
Then she threw the infant and jumped after it.
George M. Thomas of 910 Wyandotte street, one of the crowd beneath, caught the babe by one arm and both feet and dodged Mrs. Holmquest's falling body.
The child was unhurt. Mrs. Holmquest struck the brick pavement and suffered a broken knee, a serious scalp wound and internal injuries. She may recover.
Two minutes after Mrs. Holmquest jumped the truck and ladder company from No. 4 fire station arrived and rescued all of the other people imprisoned by the fire in the upper floors. They are: Mrs. Edward McNamara, wife of the police sergeant; Mr. and Mrs. C. L. Bushnell and Mr. and Mrs. Mellin.
Others than Mrs. Homlquest, who were injured in the blaze, were people on the first floor. The fire started from an unknown cause in a closet in the apartments of Mrs. Frank Alley, on the first floor, and when she opened the closet door it had gained such headway that already it was eating its way through the ceiling into the rooms above and it burst out of the closet upon her, singeing her hair and burning her hands.
A Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell, who were visiting Mrs. Alley, were unable to reach a door before the flames cut them off. Mitchell's face was burned deep into the flesh. Mrs. Alley was unable to save anything from her apartments.
The rescue of Mrs. McNamara from a window above the floor from which Mrs. Holmquest leaped was a thrilling one. When she discovered the fire she rose from her bed, where she had lain for six weeks because of sickness, crept to a window, and seeing nothing below her but smoke and flame, climbed along the window ledge on the third floor to the window of hte adjoining apartment, No. 408. There she remained until Captain John Vaughn of the fire company put up a ladder, climbed it and carried her to safety.
Mr. and Mrs. Bushnell and the Marlins, their guests, were also on the third floor. Smoke and flame coming up the stairs and enveloping the fire escapes compelled them to sit in their windows and await the arrival of the firemen. No. 4 truck company ran up three ladders and brought them all to safety.
When the work of rescue was finished the firemen turned their attention to the blaze and extinguished it after a hard battle. Two companies were called and assisted No. 4. The fire damage was confined to the three foors of the one apartment, although tenants of the apartments on either side suffered damage by water.
Last night no cause for the fire had been discovered. M. G. Harmon, agent for the property, said that the loss will probably amount to $4,000 or $5,000. The "court" runs from Broadway to Washington street on Eighteenth street on both sides and includes twenty-two houses, accommodating four families each on as many floors. Howard B. Waldron, mayor of Hisllsdale, Mich., bought the property five years ago for $200,000 and $80,000 insurance is carried.
Mrs. August Josephson, mother of the baby that was dropped three stories, returned soon after the fire and found her child at her sister's, Mrs. H. O. Axene, at 402 Landis court.
Mrs. Holmquest is 28 years old and came here from Providence, R. I. She has been married eight months and is the wife of Theodore Holmquest, a porter, employed at the Emery, Bird, Thayer Dry Goods Company. He was at work yesterday and she had left her home at 1638 Pennsylvania avenue to visit Mrs. Josephson and was caring for the baby, Velma, while Mrs. Josephson attended a funeral. Velma is eight months old.