13 FEBRUARY 1904, Page 1

Baltimore has been the scene this week of one of

the most devastating of recent fires, which, beginning last Sunday morning, raged for two days, and destroyed all the ancient centre of the city and the entire business quarter. Some estimates place the financial loss as high as £50,000,000 sterling, which would be in excess of the great Chicago fire of 1871. Fire engines were brought from New York and Philadelphia by special trains, but in spite of all efforts the huge many-storied buildings caught fire like tinder, and even the so-called fireproof buildings fell with the rest. There must be something in American cities which makes them more liable to conflagrations than other places, for in modern England we have never known any catastrophe approaching the magnitude of this or the Chicago fire. Somethingnmy be duato-the structure of. the houses, where the elevators form

a kind of flue for the flames, but there must be some drying and heat-conserving force in the air. American buildings are substantial structures, and appear to the spectator as com- pletely fire-resisting as any house in London ; but America is the scene of most fires on a colossal scale.