20th century 1900 1929 1901 1900 Reference Plan of Prague from the 40s of the 19th century, MMP 1900. Fire of Mr. Kussi's Warehouse On 24 July 1900, a fire started at Július Kussi's warehouse in Hybernská Street and spread with unusual speed endangering surrounding buildings. It was only thanks to the superhuman efforts of firemen that they were spared. The fire started in the basement where very flammable materials, oil, kerosene, petrol etc., were stored. At 10 o'clock, thick smoke came out of the basement windows and right after that, mighty flames shot out. Firemen arrived at the site and entered the basement, but due to unbearable heat and exploding bottles with petrol etc. they had to withdraw and limit their activities to confining the fire to where it had started. Large quantities of water were pumped in so the basement would be flooded, but to no avail because the water kept flowing away. Thick smoke kept rising from the windows and blazing flames bore testimony to the fact that water was of no help. The fire kept spreading and it became clear that other buildings were in danger, too. All efforts to stop the large quantities of goods in the basement were fruitless. The site looked terrible. Thick smoke was rolling out of single windows and other apertures. Firemen were running through it with hoses in their hands, faces wrapped in kerchiefs and eyes blood-shot. All were suffering from terribly choking smoke a many were injured, their commanding instructor, Záhora, among them. Among the neighbouring buildings, the half-collapsed back wall of the warehouse jutted up with black remnants of the roof structure on top. Firemen were on all the neighbouring roofs. As soon as the smoke had disappeared in one place, it showed up in another and obscured all vision. When the firemen aimed the spouts of their hoses at one spot, a column of smoke elsewhere showed that new goods had caught fire. The fire kept spreading and new and new explosions were providing evidence that fire still had a lot to feed on. The thick smoke kept growing thicker and denser and the changing odours were giving evidence of which material was catching fire. It was turpentine at one point, and then it was pitch, and not even all the efforts of firemen stealing along the walls and pouring large quantities of water into the basement prevented the predatory element from raging on. The access to the building was ever more difficult. The smoke had spread all around the area and made breathing but impossible. Only silhouettes of the firemen could be seen through it. Every now and then, some of the firemen got out to breathe some fresh air. After half past three in the afternoon, a horrendous explosion took place. It was the worst of them all but the last as well. A dumbfounding roar could be heard when splinters of glass and burning red-hot objects started flying around the yard and falling on those present at the site. The air pressure was so intense that branches and leaves of the trees were whirling around the place. People standing close to the building fell to the ground and hoses were jerked out of the hands of the firemen and water was spurting in all directions. The expanding gas made a part of the ceilingcollapse, so enabling the fire to rise upstairs. This meant that the neighbouring buildings were in jeopardy, too. The elevator, as was the case of Vilém's book warehouse,made it easy for the fire to spread, since otherwise the floors were fireproof. It was close to this elevator, running through the whole building, that flammable materials, such as matches, were stored. There was only a wooden partition between Kussi's warehouse and Tempský's book warehouse, and that meant another peril, as well. Despite all these faults and dangers that the firemen faced, the fire was completely contained at 12 o'clock and all the fire engines could leave for their headquarters. The damage incurred was very substantial. 1900. Fire of the Nusle Pavilion at the Exhibition Grounds The Nusle Pavilion at the Exhibition Grounds burnt down. On 22 July 1900, at about half past 5 p.m., a fire started close to a stove in the kitchen of the Nusle Pavilion where preparations for an upcoming festivity had been under way, and soon the entire wooden building was ablaze. The danger to the whole Exhibition Grounds was enormous. A pavilion of the Smíchov brewery, a building hosting the panorama by Marold, a building of the post and telegraph and other structures were located nearby and all were made of wood that was completely dry due to persistent sunshine. The building that people had enjoyed spending time in had gone. The surroundings presented a sad view as well. The beautiful spruce trees that had so nicely adorned the pavilion were destroyed. In the nearby Smíchov Pavilion, the walls of which had traces of fire on them only underscored the depressive impression one had looking at the fire site that could have burnt down half of the Exhibition Grounds. Prague firemen arrived with two fire engines and, supported by fire brigades from surrounding areas, extinguished the fire within one hour. The Nusle Pavilion burnt down completely and the Smíchov Pavillion, about to catch serious fire, was saved. 1901. Helmové Mills Fire Helmové mills consisted of several mills, such as Kubeš's mill and Stárek's mill, with only narrow spaces between them. Since the lights in the mills were electrical, powered by water-driven dynamos, putting them out would have left the place in total darkness. which would have led to an accident. When the fire started, a southern breeze was blowing and, within half an hour, its direction changed. The news of the fire reached the fire department headquarters at half past 8 in the evening. The notification came, almost simultaneously, from Klimentská Street and from the North-Western Station. When there is a fire in the area from the North-Western Station to the New Town Mills, it is a rule that the fire brigade VII. (with a steam fire engine) and II., together with guards from the Old Town Hall, as well as a steam fire engine from the headquarters set out for the site without waiting for any orders. Two minutes after the fire was reported, 46 men were on the way. Voluntary firemen were notified either immediately or after an assessment of the size and danger of the fire had been made. When the firemen of the first brigade reached the site, the roof of Zikmundovský mill was on fire and the flames were spreading with utmost speed in all directions. The first brigade made an attempt at containing the fire and preventing it from spreading further. The voluntary fire brigade from Bubny was of great help then. The jet of a steam engine was aimed at the western Kubeš's mill, which was in biggest danger, and also firemen from Karlín were present. Other firemen went into Stárek's mill and reached its roof hoping to save the building despite the fact that the roof had caught fire in several places. It did not work, though. The wall between two mills had cracked to such an extent that its collapse was imminent and therefore all the men had to be called off the roof. Not five minutes passed before the wall collapsed together with a part of the roof so the fire could spread through the holes. It was ordered that Kubeš's mill must be saved. Water from hydrants and a steam fire engine was poured into this and Stárek's mills because it was necessary at any cost to prevent the fire from spreading to Kubeš's mill. Fire brigades that had arrived in the meantime – from Smíchov, Karlín, Vršovice and Nusle – were ordered to save Hofrichter's mill and its storage adjacent to Stárek's mill. They were also to focus on Stárek's mill which was facilitated by the fact that they were stationed on the roof. About half an hour after the fire started in Zikmundovský and Stárek's mills, the flames were flaring all the way to the gable of Hofrichter's mill. Upon closer inspection of Hofrichter's mill, it was found out that its roof was in utmost danger and it was catching fire. At this point, an attempt was made to save it through an iron gate leading to the roof. It was high time since the one-metre wide strip along the gable of the roof was burning already. The mill was saved and the danger warded off. It is impossible to describe all that the fire brigades had to do during the fire. But it is clear that they did what they could in the difficult terrain. The public, journalists and dignitaries present during the fire praised the work of the firemen, especially their calm, silence and precision with which they had carried out their tasks. The firemen and their commanders were rewarded for their courageous and selfless behaviour during the fire by the Municipal Council of Prague. 1929. Holešovice Slaughterhouse Fire On 4 August 1929, at 11:20, a fire flared up at the place where bedding for animals was stored at the slaughterhouse in Holešovice, Prague 7. The fire started in the attic of stables of the cattle barn where compressed straw and fodder were stored. Even though the fire alarm did not work, several fire brigades (from the headquartes in Sokolská Avenue, from Holešovice, Královské Vinohrady, Žižkov, Strašnice, Libeň, Prosek and Bubeneč) arrived shortly after having been notified by telephone. The fire had been contained by 14 p.m. The cattle was saved (180 pieces). The firemen carried on clearing the site until the night. They had to make sure beams and straw would not catch fire again.