A MILLION DOLLAR FIRE.
On October 16 at Aberdeen, Wash., a lumbertown of 7,000 inhabitants, fire caused four deaths and destroyed property valued at approximately $1,000,000. It practically wiped out the main business street of the town, which is built mostly of wood. The fire was the natural result of building a wooden city upon wooden foundations on land filled in with sawdust, with streets planked with dry fir. Probably nowhere in the West was there another city so entirely built of combustible material. Both residents and insurance companies have long feared such a conflagration. Insurance rates have been raised several times, after protests by underwriters against a situation which invited a fierce fire sooner or later. Local volunteer fire equipment consisting of a hand engine, a chemical engine on wheels, two chemical extinguishers, a hook and ladder truck, three hose carriages, 2,100 feet of reliable hose, 500 of inferior. It has a membership of fortyfive, all volunteers, except a few part paid. These are divided into an engine and a hook and ladder company, and two hose companies, and are summoned to a fire by a telephone and bell alarm. The fire area is nearly two square miles, on which stand mercantile buildings, some of which are of brick and are two-storied. The private residences are all of wood and are also two stories high. The waterworks are owned by the city. The supply is derived from a brook, from which it is pumped direct by Dowe and Worthington pumping engines of a daily capacity of 2,000,000 gallons. Of pipes (twelveinch to one and one-half-inch) there arc between five and six miles laid, on which thirty hydrants are set and eighteen valves. The domestic pressure is fifty pounds; the fire, 110. The local fire department was totally inadequate to cope with a blaze so conditioned after it had once started, particularly since a still wind from Gray’s Harbor and Chehalis river swept it instantly across the streets. The fire departments of Hoquiam and Montesano rendered some assistance, but the hose was soon burned or damaged so badly as to render it worthless. Not more than one-half of the loss is covered by insurance, the insurance companies having refused to carry any greater risk, on account of the inflammable material of which all the buildings in Aberdeen are constructed. Every business man in the city is a loser by fire, water, removal, breakage, or loss by theft. Not anticipating that the flames would get beyond the fire department’s control many waited until the fire was close upon them before starting to move out. The streets were soon strewn and littered with all kinds of material, and the rush and haste of teams and people in every direction caused great confusion. The fire started in the old Mack building, on Hume street, which had been regarded as a firetrap. It was three stories high, and was occupied by numerous single men, who cooked their own meals, chiefly on oil stoves. It was in a room in the third story where the blaze originated, and the interior of the building was a mass of flames when an alarm was sent in. From the Mack block the fire spread to the fine new hose house and headquarters of the fire department. Great volumes of flames shot into the air, and the heat became unbearable a block distant. In a short time the flames had jumped across the alley to Walker’s saloon, and every building in the block bounded by Heron and F and H streets, including Kaufman’s brick building, went up. Word went along every business street to prepare for the worst, and as far no as the Commercial block there were hurried preparations to get out of danger. On the north side of Heron street the fire jumped from the Anderson block to the State bank, and evenstore from that corner to Hays bank, and all the buildings in the block bounded by Heron. G, Wishkah, and H street were burned. The city council chamber did not escape. A large dry goods store in the Weatherwax building went next, and then came the destruction of the finely equipped Crescent hotel. The flames then jumped across H street to Patterson street and to the Pacific hotel, and that newly constructed hotel was also destroyed. The Opera house and all the material and buildings of the new Hospital association next burned. In order to stop the further progress of the flames dynamite was used on several of the buildings upon which the flames were advancing. The fire started at 9 o’clock in the morning, and it was 2 p. m. before the flames were brought under control. Aberdeen has a population of about 7,000. and the chief industry is lumbering. Four persons were killed, and about twenty-five persons received minor injuries. The burned area covers twelve blocks.
The Blackpool, Lancashire, firemen recently caught two young men standing quietly awaiting the arrival of the engine they had summoned by the fire alarm. Being too drunk to walk, they were carried on the engine to the police station, and next morning were fined $32.50 each.