PARSONS FIRE IS WELL HANDLED
Parsons, Kan., has been visited with another destructive fire, equal to, if not larger than the big blaze of 1907. The loss on this occasion amounted to between $100,000 and $125,000 and may have been greater. The fire broke out pretty late in the night in a tailor’s shop in the Strasburger building, and gave the fire department, under Chief W. A. Buel, a hard three-andone-half-hour fight before it was put out. It was caused by an explosion of a can of gasoline iii the tailor’s premises, by which one man was very dangerously injured. A second explosion caused the flames to spread all the more rapidly. It was claimed that this second explosion arose from natural gas, as the four gasoline tanks, it is said, were buried 18 ft. underground. They contained 110 gal. of gasoline, which w’as brought into the shop by means of pipes. At first there seemed every possibility of confining the fire to the rear room in w’hich it originated; but the second explosion, which shattered and shook up generally everything round about, caused the flames to break out afresh. The flames broke out afresh, and the adjoining tea store caught. The walls of the Strasburger building began to collapse, and the floors fell, one after another, after a third explosion had taken place, and the thick smoke and clouds of dust, to say nothing of the danger from the falling walls, handicapped the firemen severely. After the department had been working on the front of the building for about two hours, flames suddenly broke out in the rear of the entire building, and completed its ruin. Sparks of burning embers were borne to the roof of the First Methodist church on the southeast corner of the same block as the Strasburger building, and in a very short time only its brick walls remained. The minister’s brick, tileroofed house, however, and his barn, a corrugated iron structure, were saved. On the east of the Strasburger building was a double-store, only the west half of which could be saved. Fortunately, there was a stout brick party wall just there, which stopped the further progress of the fire. If it had not been for that, the conflagration would have been much more extensive, as the building to which the walls belonged was filled with furniture, and the strong northwest wind that was blowing would have carried the flames not onlv into the adjoining stores, but, also, across the street. The Strasburger building was 3-story and was constructed of brick and iron, but was neither fireproof nor sprinklered. It had one large basement, through which the flames spread front, rear and to both sides, and, as there were no firewalls—only partitions between the stores and rooms—there was nothing to prevent the spread of the flames. There was no loss of life, and only two persons were injured. Chief Buel walked in the darkness off a rear platform on the second story and fell into the alley. His fall was broken by his being caught on the telephone and electric light wires, from which the current had been turned off. He escaped with a sprained ankle. A boy, also, fell into the basement of one of the stores and broke three ribs.
The fire department of Parsons, which is a city of about 8,000 or 9,000 inhabitants and for many years has enjoyed the services of Chief Buel as its head, is small, but compact and efficient, part paid and part volunteer. It has no steamers and depends upon hydrant streams for fighting fires. The system is pumping to a standpipe, the fire pressure being given as 150 lb. The Game well fire alarm telegraph system is installed, and the department has a supply of about 2,500 ft. of rubber and cotton, rubber-lined hose. Its fire area of 640 or more acres has many wooden residential buildings; but no wooden roofs are permitted. They are chiefly 2-story, while the business buildings are mostly of stone or brick and 1 story to 3-storv in height. Considering that the city has been recently so severely visited by two fires, each very destructive, it would not be amiss if the fire department were strengthened by the addition of more paid men, and at least a steamer and a combination chemical wagon.