Conflagration at Valdez, Alaska
Valdez, Alaska, a town of about 1,000 inhabitants, suffered a loss of $450,000 on July 15, when a fire wiped out nearly the entire business section. In all, forty buildings were burned, including a sawmill, sash and door factory, printing plant, assay office, paint shop, four carpenter shops, boat building plant, electric light plant, metal works, post office and several stores and residences. The blaze, it is thought, originated in the rear of a butcher shop in the Fry-Bruhns building from an overheated motor. It was discovered by a young woman at about 4 p. m., a time when but few people are on the streets in Valdez, and it burned so rapidly that when the firemen, under Chief W. M. Finikal, who responded promptly, arrived, the fire was beyond control, spreading to a motion picture theatre adjoining, in which was stored thirty reels of films to have been shipped to Seattle the next lay. No sooner had the flames reached this building than two ammonia tanks in the FryBruhns building exploded, scattering fire in all directions. All the structures being of frame construction, a few with galvanized iron covering, and aided by a fifteen-mile wind, the blaze spread with great rapidity. After a fight of two and a half hours, in which nearly every resident of the town gave a hand, the fire was finally stopped with the help of a fire wall in a large general merchandise store. Three electric pumps at the light plant were put out of commission by the burning of the wires. Property owned by Chief Finikal was damaged to the extent of $40,000. The apparatus in service consisted of one Ahrcns-Fox second size Continental steam engine, one hand pump, two 40-gallon chemical engines and a ladder truck. Two 4-inch double hydrants, about 100 feet apart, and all that were available, supplied four streams. The pressure at the hydrants was between 80 and 90 pounds. None of the 1,500 feet of hose used burst. The accompanying photographs were courteously furnished by Chief Finikal.