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fire


PM, April 23, 1944, pp.m4-5

Fire Alarm
Weegee calls this his favorite photo. It was made at dawn recently on Manhattan’s Lower East Side during a tenement house fire. ‘The couple on the sidewalk,’ Weegee told us, ‘are watching the fire and hoping their belongings will not be burned. That is, the ones which the man had to leave behind.’ What happens to New Yorkers when they’re burned out of their homes? Well, the Emergency Welfare Division of the Department of Welfare takes them under its wing; finds temporary quarters for them in hotels, rooming houses or the Municipal Lodging House; helps them find new permanent homes; provides emergency food, clothing and even money for expenses. Families with very low incomes and those on relief get replacements of destroyed clothing and furniture free of charge. Clothing and blankets are kept in a Division warehouse and are rushed to citizens whom fire has forced to jump out of bed and flee into the cold night.” PM, April 23, 1944, pp.m5


US Camera, 1944, p. 40

“How these pictures were made.
SALVAGE from a tenement house fire is a typical Weegee shot. He says: “The other photogs on the job thought I was nuts to turn my camera on the spectators instead of the fire – but of all the pix I’ve made, I like this the best.” Made with a 4×5″ news camera, fast pan film, one flash bulb, in 1/200th of a secons at f/16.”


Naked City, 1945, p. 71

“A couple driven out from the burning tenement… I don’t know their names… but I did hear someone call him ‘Pincus’… so here they are right across the street from their burning tenement… it looks like Pincus had time to grab a woman’s dress… his best coat… but minus the pants…” Naked City, 1945, p. 71


“Tenement fire, 1945.” Weegee, 1977, p. 65


“The clothing has been saved, 1943.” Weegee’s New York, 1982, p. 34


“A couple driven out from the burning tenement…” Weegee’s World, 1997 p. 120

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Daily News, January 27, 1941 (Probably Weegee photos.)
Hundreds Cheer Heroic Rescue
Firemen wait anxiously outside loft building at 45 W. 14th St. Smoke pours from windows. Inside a female is in distress. But, ah, Our Hero is on the job. And here he comes, by gosh, (applause) with the Heroine. She’s just a dummy, but she’s a woman. It was a two-alarmer and no one was hurt.”

Great article called:

“How I traced my grandfather’s life from a famous photographer’s image”
by Charles R. Hale

Published on irishcentral.com on May 31, 2015.

Of course that famous photographer was Weegee.

The famous photographer’s photo was on page 73 of Naked City.
The PM page and page spread, published on March 8, 1942:
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PM, March 8, 1942, pp.2-3

Street Scene: Last Rights After Fire

“Three persons died in a one-alarm fire at a tenement with out fire escapes at 239 W. 16th St. yesterday. Seven other persons were injured. On the street after the bodies were removed, Father G.J. Knoepfel, S.J., pronounced the last rites as ambulance doctor held his hat. Two of the dead were identified as Mrs. Betty Hasara, 22, and her daughter Lucille, 8 months. The other body was too badly burned for identification. Two men were rescued from ladders; two women carrying children jumped from second-floor windows. Police are investigating the fire, which apparently started on the first floor and swept through the roof. Flames were 40 feet high when firemen arrived. Other fires yesterday took two lives in Brooklyn.
PM Photo by Weegee

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We published this blog post on March 8, 2013:
Weegee Daily… March 8, 1942… Street Scene: Last Rights After Fire…

A few related articles:
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St. Petersburg Times, 03/08/1942

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Daily Argus, 03/07/1942

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Syracuse Herald Journal, 03/08/1942

A few contemporary views, Weegee Daily, March 9, 2013:

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IMG_7782 copy

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New York Herald Tribune, February 28, 1944 (Photo by Weegee)
Fire Destroys ‘the World’s Largest Scenic Railway’ at Coney Island
Firemen fighting the four-alarm fire which razed the Thompson Scenic Railway late Saturday Night. Minor damage was done to concessions in adjacent Luna Park and to ties of the B.M.T. elevated tracks, causing the rerouting of all trains on four lines.”

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Weegee, Unknown Weegee, February 28, 1944, p. 40 (Photo by Weegee)

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Daily Mirror, February 28, 1944 (Mirror Photo, presumably not by Weegee)
“FOUR-ALARMER IN CONEY ISLAND. Hundreds of firemen, coast guardsmen and wardens were called out to combat a spectacular week-end fire which reduced to these ruins Coney Island’s Scenic Railway, called the oldest and largest amusement device in U.S. Unused Luna Park property and adjoining concessions were damaged. The orgin of the blaze is unknown.”

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New York Times, February 28, 1944 (Associated Press, presumably not Weegee)
“Coney Island Scenic Railway After it Was Gutted by Flames
The L.A. Thompson landmark – called one of the oldest and largest amusement devices of its kind in the country – was destroyed by fire on Saturday night. It is adjacent to famed Luna Park and four alarms were turned in before the blaze was under control.”

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PM, February 28, 1944, (PM Photo by Weegee)
“Plug for Wimpy by Weegee
An auxiliary fireman handing coffee to rain-soaked firefighters at the Thompson Scenic Railway fire at Coney Island yesterday poses long enough to give Weegee this picture.”

(It’s fascinating that while photographing the tragedy of a large fire at Coney Island, Weegee also made this funny foto of a coffee-toting fire-buff goofing around with Wimpy the hamburg-loving cartoon character and friend of Popeye. And that this is the photo that PM published of the fire…)

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Weegee’s People, 1946


Irrelevant: Popeye, Amusement Park (1947), from youtube – here… “It’s marvelous…”

PM Newspaper
PM Daily, June 8, 1941
“The Cumfort Hotel, an unoccupied flop house at 21 Bowery, was swept by fire yesterday. Battalion Chief Patrick Carey and Fireman Thomas Deady fell from a ladder while climbing to the roof. Here is Deady being taken to a hospital where he was found to be suffering from concussion of the brain. Chief Carey suffered only bruises.
PM Photo by Weegee

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Weegee Daily, June 8, 2013
The Cumfort Hotel is now the Confucius Florist…
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WD Photo by Google Street View (There should be Google Street View at night.)

To be continued…

Mongrel Pup Almost Dies Saving 16 Families in Fire
Jerry, mongrel collie, was overcome by smoke in a fish store at 210 E. 10th St., but not before he attracted the attention of a passerby.
When the ambulance arrived an intern gave the unconscious pup an injection and continued treatments until he regained his senses. Sixteen families made their escape from apartments above the store, due to Jerry’s warning.
John Lamanna, Jerry’s owner tenderly carries him off wrapped in a blanket. The intern said the dog would recover.
PM Daily, November 17, 1941, p. 18