Thursday, November 5, 2015

On This Date in Minnesota History: November 5

November 5, 1910 – With a terrific noise, a large gasoline tank, the feed supply of a multi-burner stove in the Railroad Eating House near Hiawatha Ave. in Minneapolis, exploded this evening. The flames drove occupants of the place to the street, fatally burning Adon Morris, the proprietor, who died later at the City Hospital, and resulting in a partial destruction of the two-story frame building.

In dragging Morris, in a semi-conscious and delirious condition to the street, Matt Madigan, pipeman at No. 13 Hose Company, was severely beaten about the face by the hysterical man, whose lungs were full of smoke and who unconsciously fought like an animal. It was necessary for three firemen to sit on Morris while a doctor attended his burns. He died after two hours of suffering.

The blast occurred just before supper time, when four men were eating in the restaurant. Morris was at the rear of the restaurant when the tank blew up, hurling the counter across one corner of the room and sending the burning fluid all over the woodwork. Morris was pinned down by the counter, which had fallen across his back. The room burst into flames at every point.

In answer to a still alarm, Hose Company No. 13 arrived at the scene. Told there were still people in the building, Pipeman Madigan dropped the hose and rushed into the flames. Groping on his hands and knees through the smoke and fire, Madigan’s outstretched hands came in contact with the man pinned under the counter. Madigan lifted up the heavy counter and with his foot shook the seemingly lifeless body. Morris revived suddenly and groping blindly forward, he wrapped his arms around the giant fireman’s legs in a vice-like grip. Madison fell to the floor.

Burning timbers and firebrands were falling thick about them and the air was choking hot with flames. Madigan, gasping for breath, tried to break the grip of the delirious man, but was unable to shake him off. He started crawling over the burning floor, dragging Morris behind him.

Streams of water were playing on the flames by the time Madigan reached the street. Both men were burned and blackened. As Morris breathed the fresh air, his senses revived and, jumping up suddenly, he bowled over Madigan with an unexpected blow. Firemen and neighbors threw themselves upon the frantic man and pinned him to the ground.

The flames almost completely devoured the frame building and entailed an estimated loss of about $1,500. The loss is covered by insurance.

The Minneapolis Morning Tribune
; “Man Fells Rescuer; Burns Prove Fatal. Gasoline Tank Blast Wrecks Restaurant—Owner is Trapped in Ruins. Proprietor, Crazed by Burns, Knocks Fireman Down With Blow. Railroad Eating House is Wrecked by Fire-Hurling Explosion.”; Nov. 6, 1910; p. 1.

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