May 1, 1951—Fire Chief Alonzo Earle today expressed the opinion that “a firebug’ set the two fires on the Forbes estate and the Whittemore Coal Company early this morning. All police officers were called on duty to search the town for a suspect.
Three buildings and at least eight head of a herd of 60 cattle were destroyed at the Gay Farm estate of W. Cameron Forbes at 1:47.
An hour before another general alarm fire gutted the Whittemore Coal Company on Lenox St., scorched several homes, and burned out telephone and electric wires which furnished power to the southern section of this town.
Fire Chief Earle said he was of the opinion that both fires were the work of a fire bug who has been responsible for several small fires around the town in recent weeks.
Police Chief Patrick Coyne recalled all off-duty officers and began an immediate search for the man who has been trying to set fire to the C. W. Wool Company which is adjacent to the coal firm.
Boston District Fire Chief Francis B Hanron of 32 Gould st. West Roxbury, discovered the Forbes estate fire as he was driving a married daughter to her home there. Chief Hanron aroused two families occupying a burning farmhouse and carried two small children. Hudson Bowley Jr.. 7 months, and his sister, Charlotte Ann, 4 years, to safety.
At about the same time the children’s mother, Mrs. Charlotte Bowley. awoke and saw the flames. Along with Hanron she alerted the other occupants of the house. They were her husband Hudson, and second-floor residents. Cedric Keyser, his wife, Mildred, and Mrs. Ada Boughton. None was injured by the blaze.
Two firemen were Injured battling the second fire. Clarence Earle, 38, son of Fire Chief Alonzo Earle, suffered back injuries when one of the cows he was rescuing from the flaming barn fell on top of him. The other, William Travers, received injuries to his hand. Both were treated at Norwood Hospital.
Engine 30 from Center st. West Roxbury, rushed to the Gay Farm to assist Canton. Walpole, Dedham, and Needham equipment and men when the second general alarm was sounded.
Knight Badger, superintendent of the estate, lauded Hudson Bowley and Cedric Keyser, who rushed to the barn and rescued most of the cattle despite the fact their own home was a mass of flames. When several of the cows and calves refused to leave the burning barn, the trio was forced to pour a hose on them. Still, a cow and seven calves refused to move and were burned to death.
The coal company fire was discovered about 12:30 by Thomas Anderson, a pressman at the Plympton Press, who was driving home. The general alarm was sounded by Chief Earle when he arrived on the scene to find the entire structure enveloped by flame.
About 200 persons were alerted to flee their homes when the flames scorched their houses and threatened to penetrate the walls.
(Globe Staff Photo by John Sheahan)
(The Boston Globe-May 1, 1951)
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