Man Overcome By Smoke Rescued From Bedroom

William Wall and John Hayes carrying out the only piece of furniture salvaged from the Hennesy apartment, with the fire gutted block behind. (Surette Photo)

One person was injured and 14 others were forced to flee to the street early this morning when flames swept a one-story apartment and store block at the corner of Fulton and Nahatan streets.

Rescued by police through a window of his smoke-filled bedroom was Thomas Costello, 63, of 211 Fulton street, who lost consciousness from smoke- inhalation before he could make his way alone to safety. He was taken to the Norwood Hospital in the town ambulance and his condition was reported this morning as “good.”

Others who fled to the street in their nightclothes as the flames swept, the block from end to end were the Misses Elizabeth A. Hennessey, Louise C. Hennessey and Marguerite A Hennessey, sisters, of 205 Fulton street; Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Schaier, Jr., of 207 Fulton street, and their three small children, Dorothy, 9, Arthur, 6, and Paul 5; Mrs. Lucille P. Briguglio of 209 Fulton street, and her three small children, John Paul, 3, Joseph Paul, iy2, and Donna Lee, 6 months; and Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Costello of 211 Fulton street, and their son, Patrick J.

The fire broke out about 12:45 a,m, In the kitchen of the Costello apartment, which is the end apartment in the block. Mrs. Costello had been to the kitchen a short time before and found everything in order at that time. Returning for a drink of water, she found the room a mass of flames when she opened the door leading to the hall.


Mr. Costello turned and fled screaming through her apartment and into the street to arouse other occupants of the block. Mrs. Brigugllo, in the adjoining apartment, was awakened by her cries of fire. and hurried her three children from their beds out onto the street. In the meantime. Mr. and Mrs. Schaier were awakened by the screams and while Mr. Schaier led the three youngsters to safety, his wife managed to salvage enough clothing to keep the children warm in the night air. As soon as he was on the sidewalk. Mr. Schaier aroused the Hennessey sisters next door and they, too. made their way to safety just in time. Five minutes later, all four apartments were ablaze.

In the meantime. Catherine Hayes noticed the flames from her home on the opposite corner of the street and she notiñed the Fire Department by telephone. Virtually the entire block was in flames when firemen arrived moments later.

Police Officers Henry Corbett. John Conroy. Valentine Balutis and John Griffin responded to the alarm, and on their arrival were informed that Thomas Costello was still in the building. Officer Griffin went to the bedroom window, and there saw Costello lying across the bed, unconscious from smoke inhalation. Griffin reached in through the window, pulled the bed down to where the man could be reached, and with the help of Officer Ballutis hauled the unconscious form through the window. Costello was rushed to the Norwood Hospital in the ambulance by Officers Conroy and Griffin.

Costello, in addition to smoke inhalation, suffered a laceration of his left hand caused by broken glass.

The two stores on the Nahatan street end of the block are occupied as a candy store, and a market on the corner, by the owner of the property, John Garrity. He was summoned to the scene from his home in Milton by police.

Here are the charred ruins of the Costello apartment at 211 Fulton street after flames swept the apartment and store early this morning.(Surrette Photo)


The four apartments were virtually wiped out in the blaze. Practically nothing could be salvaged by the occupants this morning as they surveyed the ruins in the sunlight which poured in from above. Little of the roof was left. Both stores suffered heavy damage.

Mrs. Briguglio and her three children were being cared for today by the Red Cross. The father, is a Navy aviation mach, mate 2/C stationed in Chicago, and efforts were being made early this morning to contact him. The family was given temporary shelter at the Haves residence across the street until provisions for them could be made by the Red Cross.

The three Briguglio children (left to right) John, 3, Joseph 1 1/2, and Donna, 6 shown with their mother (holding Donna) and Elizabeth Hennesy, at the home of James Hayes, 337 Nahatan street, where fire drove them from their beds. (Surrette Photo)

The Hennessey sisters likewise were given shelter at the Hayes home.

The Schaiers are staying for the time being at the home of Mr. Schaier’s parents at 53 Silver street They, like all other occupants of the block, lost practically all of their belongings in the fire, and the father spent today attempting to find a new apartment.

The blaze gave firemen a two-and-a-half-hour battle as tons of water were poured into the structure to subdue the fiâmes. Fire Chief Alonzo Earle estimated total damage this morning at $15.000. An investigation, he said, is being conducted to determine the cause of the blaze.

Several firemen received cuts from broken glass while fighting the fire.

The fire was the second similar blaze here within two weeks. An early morning fire on October 11 wiped out the Press Cafe and Frank’s Market when (lames swept a store block on Washington street next to the Norwood Press.

(Originally published in the Norwood Messenger, October 23, 1944)