Grand Forks Masonic Temple Gone
Although not a serious fire from a financial standpoint, the burning of the handsome Masonic Temple at Grand Forks. N. D., was a great loss to the city and the large number of members of the order. The report of Chief A. H. Runge to Fire and Water Engineering fully describes the difficulties the firemen experienced in reaching the fire at the start, and it was this delay that caused the destruction of the building. The report says:
The members of the lodge noticed smoke coming out of the ventilator in the lodge room of the second floor and the odor of tar and rosin. Investigation proved that the employes of A. B. Rheinharts hardware store were careless in removing its sweepings, while in the rear was stored the oils, and directly underneath a large quantity of building and roofing paper was kept. When not desiring to carry out the sweepings during the cold weather, the debris was thrown down the elevator hole; sawdust was also used at times to take up any oils spilled, but some of it found its way into the basement. These materials all in a heap caused spontaneous combustion followed by fire in a remarkably short time. The building was located in the middle of the block with a 20-foot alley on the east side and a 10-foot alley in the rear areaway running from the 20-foot alley in rear of both stores under the rear portion of the building. The areaway in the rear of the hardware store was blocked with merchandise, thereby closing two windows, the elevator door and cellar window, just where the fire was the hottest. Considerable time was lost in removing material before effective work could be done, and in the meantime lines were run into the basement but failed to reach the fire, the smoke being so dense as to drive the men out. All cellar windows on the alley side were covered with snow and ice, gratings being frozen so solid in the ice that the only means of getting to the cellar was through a tin shop. Four hydrants were within 15 feet of the building; one was found frozen and one required the efforts of four men to open it, as it w’as frozen around the valve stem. The next nearest hydrant was 450 feet away. One of the hydrants near the building has 4 1-2 inch and the other 2-inch and 3-inch outlets. Three 4 1-2″ x 2 1-2-inch hydrant gates were in service; the three hydrants so equipped were furnishing thirteen lines, and one line from the hydrant 450 feet away. Three of these lines were siamesed into a Hart deck nozzle. Effectiveness of the water system can be readily seen from the alley side of the building where all electric wires arc still intact, the voltage running from 220 to 2,300. The department is handicapped at all large fires, having only nine men. including the chief, with three drivers. This leaves but a few men to stretch hose until the call men arrive. The department is pleased with its work, confining the fire to the building which was practically a lumber yard, surrounded by brick walls and nothing to stop a draft when once the fire got started. The first floor was occupied by hardware and clothing stores, the second and third floors by all the bodies of the York and Scottish Rite, Eastern Star and Shrine. These bodies lost all their jewels, furniture and paraphernalia. The building was a three-story structure of brick and wood. Its partition walls were lath and plaster, and there was no private equipment for fire protection. The fire was discovered at 11 p. m., in the lodge room, and after burning for six hours it was stopped when only the walls remained. The apparatus consisted of three sleighs, one truck, one wagon with Hart turret nozzle. Twelve streams ranging from 1-inch to 1 3-4-inch were used, at one time employing 3,500 feet of hose, not a length of which burst. The water pressure from direct pumping was about 00 pounds at the hydrants. The exact loss on contents, consisting of furniture, hardware and clothing, was $58,000. and on building. $25,000. The fire was fought with the termometer 20 below zero. Some of the hose used was 18 years old. so that the above record is very flattering to the makers. The only accident reported was that of two men being fronst-bitten. Through the successful direction of Chief Runge, Grand Forks has escaped any serious fire for many years, and this would not have footed up so large a loss, if normal conditions prevailed.