Spontaneous Combustion To the Editor of the Scientific American : A curious case of spontaneous combustion came under my notice a few days ago. A number of matches which were lying loose upon a shelf ignited and burned without apparent friction or contact with a flame of any kind. The day, March 30, about 11 A. M., was foggy and cloudy. I was seated with my back toward the shelf, when I suddenly noticed a flash not unlike that which takes place when a large lamp is lighted, and on looking around I saw the matches blazing on the shelf. Had this occurrence taken place at night among papers, or in some person's pocket, it might have been the origin of one of those unaccountable fires which appear to. be unpleasantly prevalent. ' Of course, spontaneous combustion is neither novel nor always un-explainable, and possibly may occur more easily with matches than with other articles. This appears to prove, however, that matches should be packed and handled with greater care than is usually given to them. At the time that the case I mention took place, there was no fire near the shelf, nor anything on the same that would appear to be capable of causing friction. Is it possible that the ignition was due to an atmospheric cause, or could it be owing in any way to the chemical composition of the match or . matches which ignited first? This seems, to me to be a rather serious question for fire insurance companies, as well as factory owners and householders generally. Matches should be handled with far greater care than is usually the case, and should, for instance, be kept entirely out of reach of children. I am convinced from what I saw in this case that certain kinds of matches at least are extremely liable to be ignited spontaneously. East Orange, N. J. William Dewabt. low the surface while a hot flame from a gasoline torch is directed against it. Experiments have been made with the new brick, of which a report has been presented to the Merchants' Association of Monterey. The deposits of clay from which the brick is made are very extensive and the brick can be manufactured cheaply. The Merchants' Association will conduct further experiments, and, if the bricks prove to be satisfactory, the building of fireproof structures will be revolutionized. One of the remarkable incidents of the great fire of San Francisco was the immunity from damage of an old wooden shack owned by the American Marine Paint Company at the corner of Main and Harrison Streets. The ramshackle, half-century-old building stands unharmed, a little island in a sea of desolation. It reeks with oil and is filled with highly inflammable materials. Quite near to it a great pile of coal caught fire and burned for nearly a week. The officials of the company felt so certain that the place had fallen a victim to the devouring flames that they did not even attempt to visit it until two weeks or so after the conflagration, and then it was mere curiosity to see what the ruins looked like that led them there. Their astonishment when they saw their oil-soaked wooden store standing unharmed amid the ruins of fireproof buildings can easily be imagined. fracture, neither had a solitary flower-pot been thrown from the shelves, yet within two blocks of my house, right in sight, a mile of the most substantial brick buildings in the county had been prostrated to the ground and were a few minutes later in a blaze. The beautiful court house was all but destroyed, while hotels, business blocks, theaters, and many private dwellings shared in the common ruin, all this happening in a space not exceeding one and one-quarter minutes. "The first shock came from the west and then turned and came back from the east, afterward appearing to twist around in a circle, racking the buildings and involving them in utter destruction." Not a brick or stone structure in a space 3,000 feet in length and 600 feet wide escaped destruction; the heart of the city was involved in a minute and one-quarter in total ruin. Strangely enough, frame buildings, those even. of the lightest construction, were comparatively unharmed, suffering no greater damage than from broken plaster or breakage of rotten timbers. The financial loss to the beautiful city will reach from 3,500,000 to 4,000,000 but a more dreadful consequence was the fatality attending the catastrophe, which cannot be accurately determined. Seventy-eight bodies were recovered. Had Santa Rosa been the only locality involved in the catastrophe, the loss of life and property would have caused it to have been recorded as the most terrible earthguake visitation known to the history of the State; but, overshadowed by the tremendous upheaval at San Francisco, the magnitude of the Santa Rosa cataclysm is almost lost to sight. The work of rebuilding is now proceeding in energetic fashion, and' a different aspect than at present afflicts the spectator will soon be presented. Hundreds of workmen are busily engaged in erecting one, two, and three-story buildings, and it will not be many months before all visible signs of the disaster will have vanished. Every hotel of any pretension--and there were a number of them--was either destroyed by' the shock or by fire, but the proprietor of one was equal to the emergency. The new St. Rose is the first to rise from its ashes, not as a structure of brick or mortar as before, but in the shape of a great tent, capacious enough for 250 bedrooms and fitted with every appurtenance of modern travel and comfort, with' the added novelty of perfect ventilation and safety from seismic disturbances. The energetic citizens have determined on a new plan for their city, in which wide streets will be a prominent feature.