This Day In History: 1940-02-23
Three different insurance investigators gave different explanations for the fire which severely damaged the Home of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Prendergast on Oweno Rd. The fire started as Mr. Prendergast was using some cleaning fluid to remove soot from the wall of the game room. The result of oil burner explosions on the 18th and 20th. He said he was using only small quantities of the fluid at the time. He went into the garage from the cellar to check on the intake valve of the oil burner which was clogged with snow, returned to the kitchen for a glass of water only to find a dense cloud of smoke in the dining room. By the time he had called the Fire Department from an extension phone upstairs the smoke was too heavy to permit his escape. He sat for a time on the window sill of the upstairs bathroom estimating his chances of injury if he jumped into the snow bank below. Windows began to blow out downstairs and the roof beneath him began to get him when a neighbor, Donal Sherow, arrived with a ladder and he was able to escape. He highly praised the work of the Fire Department but the house was severely damaged. They arrived within six minutes and were able to save some of the furnishings. The insurance experts could not decide among the cleaning fluid, the oil burner or a carelessly dropped cigarette to blame for the disaster. Mr. Prendergast stated that he was not smoking at the time.