Heavy Fire Loss at Waterloo, Ia.
Not in many years has Waterloo, Ia., been so hard hit by fire as when flames recently destroyed the Russell-Lamson Block in which is located the Paul Davis Company’s dry goods store. The loss is placed at $500,000, and is only partially covered by insurance. The block, which was one of the most imposing structures in the city, was four stories in height, and was built of brick in 1898. All floors above the first were occupied as offices. The fire was discovered about 7 A. M., in the basement by a young woman employe. She first smelled smoke, and thought but little of it, supposing that it came from the furnace. A few minutes later when she discovered flames, an alarm was hastily _____i_____en. When the fire department with Chief A. A. Dunham in command, reached the store, the basement was filled with flames which were rapidly eating their way up to the first floor. For a time the firemen maintained eleven streams on the flames in the basement, but were soon driven out of the building, and for two hours the fire was fought from the street. It was a hopeless task, however, as the entire contents of the dry goods house was destroyed by either fire or smoke. Chief Dunham brought into use for the first time a new turret nozzle, which operated from a hose wagon, did very effective work in holding the flames in check and thus saving the adjoining buildings.
At 11 o’clock after the department had fought the flames desperately for three and a half hours, the blaze suddenly burst out through the roof, having made its way, despite the eight streams of water that were playing on it from the basement to the top of the fourth floor. Almost simultaneously flames broke from nearly every window in the four floors on all sides of the building. Sparks and great chunks of burning material, carried by the strong wind that was blowing, were wafted for blocks. Directly across the street from the burning building stands the eight story Blackhawk National bank building. This structure is virtually fireproof and despite the fact that it was literally bombarded with sparks and burning cinders as high as the eighth story, it repelled all attacks of the fire and not only emerged unscathed, but in all probability saved buildings adjoining it from bring ignited. Fortunately the fall of snow of the day before proved a protecting blanket. Employes of the Waterloo Savings Bank, a quarter of a block away, covered the big plate glass windows with heavy canvas and kept a small stream of water from a garden hose playing on the front of the building as an extra precaution The water system went through the most crucial test in recent years and came out with flying colors. Eleven streams using 250 gallons of water each per minute and one stream 500 gallons played for hours on the fire. All of this flood of water was artesian. The 1,000,000 gallon reservoir was filled to the top when the fire broke out. The gauge showed its contents to measure eighteen feet in depth. As soon as the magnitude of the fire was apparent the pumps at the artesian wells were operated with increased energy. At 2 o’clock eleven feet of water remained, nearly two-thirds of the amount contained at 7 o’clock, when the fire started. The pressure was all that was desired.