Fire Loss in Nebraska
The 1914 report of State Fire Commissioner W. S. Ridgell, of Nebraska, shows that the loss during the year was $1,873,071. This is complete as to cities and village but only partial as to farm losses. There were 1,325 fires in cities and towns, causing a loss of $1,796,904.50. The farm losses so far as reported were $76,170.75. The value of property involved was $5,949,801, and of their contents, $4,654,087. The insurance on buildings was $735,288, and on contents $2,488,217. Losses on buildings reached the total of $757,292, and on contents, $1,115,783. The four largest fires reported for the year were: Beatrice, $144,500; Grand Island, $134,924; Fremont, $129,422; Wymore, $86,290. The causes of fires were principally as follows: Bonfires, 10; defective or unguarded flues, 90; hot ashes in boxes and barrels, 23; matches, candles, etc., in clothes closets, 11; cigars, cigarettes and matches carelessly thrown down, 37; electric lights in bed or electric irons sitting on tables, 9; fire works, 5; furnaces, 34; gasoline, 98; kerosine lamps, 22; children and matches, 72; rubbish heaps, 14; overheated stoves, 29; spontaneous combustion, 40. Reports were received of 307 fires of unknown origin. The report says that 64 suspicious fires were investigated by the bureau. Convictions in such cases are difficult to secure, it declares, because the evidence gathered is chiefly circumstantial. In most cases of suspected or proven incendiarism the property was overinsured. Commissioner Ridgell believes the companies should be held responsible for the acts of their local agents in overinsuring property. In that way he thinks a closer supervision would be exercised. In the building inspection department, the work has covered 202 towns and 11,522 structures. In many cases a cleanup of premises followed, and some of the buildings inspected were condemned and torn down. Commissioner Ridgell requests that his own salary, now $2,000, be raised to $2,500, and that of his chief deputy, H. F. Requartte, from $1,500 to $2,000. The salaries are paid out of a fund derived from a yearly tax of 3.8 mills on the premium income of fire insurance companies.