Coldwater, Mich., Armory Badly Damaged

Coldwater, Mich., Armory Badly Damaged

Flames were discovered at 5 A. M. on Sunday, June 26, in the armory of Company A, Michigan State Guard. The fire was noticed by two or three persons about the same time and the alarm was at once turned into the fire department. The firemen under command of Chief Brown attempted to enter the building from the front, but this was found to be impossible, owing to the dense smoke in the interior of the structure. The chief said that the smoke was so suffocating that it was impossible for his men to breathe, so they were unable to enter. Men were sent to the roof on the second story of the front part of the armory to cut holes in order to allow the smoke to escape, but Were forced off before they were able to do this on account of the intense heat. The wind was in the southwest, and all the heat from the fire in the drill hall on the south part came directly over the front of the building, making it unbearable for the men to work. It was thought that the fire might have been of incendiary origin, as there were some peculiar features connected with it, but as there was a cuspidor filled with sawdust near the stage it was possible that the fire might have started from a cigarette being thrown into it. As far as it was known there were only a few persons in the building Saturday and the janitor said that he locked every door and went over the building Saturday evening, and he is positive everything was all right at that time. Several spectators spoke on the rapidity of the spread of the fire. The flames seemed to envelop the whole structure in a very small space of time. The hardwood floor in the center of the drill room, a considerable distance from the stage, where the fire was discovered, was entirely burned through, while in front of the stage the floor is in fairly good condition. The walls were not even blackened in many places. The roof over this part of the building, which is suspended by great steel girders, was also very badly burned. A theoryadvanced by Captain Graves, commandant of the company, is that some sort of an explosion occurred after the fire had started, possibly from a backdraft. This theory is strengthened by the fact that the walls of the rear of the building, where there were few windows, showed considerable bulge, having an appearance as if some great pressure had forced them out of plumb. The portion where windows were close together showed very little distortion, probably owing to the fact that the gases escaped through the windows. The armory cost approximately $55,000.

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Coldwater, Mich., Armory Badly Damaged

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