25 MARCH 1899, Page 2

A great hotel in New York, the ' Windsor,' was

burned to the ground on Friday, the 17th inst., the destruction being accompanied with terrible loss of life. It is not known how the fire originated, but it spread with frightful rapidity, the attendants in charge of fire extinguishers lost their heads, and of the residents great numbers did not know where the staircases were. They had always used the lifts, which, of course, acted as mere funnels for the flames and the asphyxiating smoke. Seven bedridden persons were charred to death, and numbers of women jumped from the upper stories, to be smashed on the pavements below,—the total of killed and missing being 58, and of injured more than 50. The firemen behaved heroically, but it is said that the hotel, which was a gigantic frame filled up for the most part with lath and plaster, was simply a fire-trap, and that there are eleven hotels in New York no better protected. All kinds of stories are told of heroism and suffering, but perhaps the one best worth recording is that of a man who, caught by the fire on the eighth story, wound a coil of wire round his body, and slowly unwound himself till he reached tile ground. There was marvellous coolness and resource in th new feat. The municipality intend, it is said, to insist on more precau- tions ; but they cannot alter the American character, and until they do they will not prevent hideous catastrophes. The wonderful inventiveness of Americans seems to be consistent with a fatalism which regards care as either useless or dis- creditable.