Tottori Japan Nearly Destroyed
Over 4,000 houses in the city of Tottori, Japan, were destroyed by Japan’s biggest fire since the war, which started at 3:00 P.M. on Thursday, April 17th, last. Fanned by a strong wind (19 to 29 M.P.H.) fire whipped through the tinderlike dwellings despite the efforts of all local and other fire fighters. At 11:30 P.M., the fire was still spreading and over one-third of the city had been wiped out. Of the 12,000 houses in the city, 5,288 were burned.
Sufferers from the fire were estimated at 20,000. Over 130 persons were injured by the blaze, many of them seriously. Wire communications with Osaka and other areas went out, but emergency lines between the city and Hiroshima were used to call for aid. The National Police Force sent 300 men; the National Rural Police another 70 men to assist.
The fire was the fourth conflagration for Tottori. The three other big fires occurred in 1882, 1927 and 1943.
The fire was said to have been caused by a short circuit in a vacant house next to the Dogen Public Bath House, operated by the municipality. In addition to the latter, many leading buildings in the city were consumed by the flames, including 14 government structures, the Tottori Central Hospital, the Tottori’ Bank, the Sanin-Godo Bank, the Labor Relations Standard Bureau and the National Rural Police Headquarters.
Tottori has a population of about 61,000.
Three other fires occurred in Toyama, Hyogo and Nagano the same day. In Toyama Prefecture over 60 houses were destroyed in a fire which broke out in the town of Ikeji at 5:10 P.M. The origin is being investigated. Another fire destroyed 62 houses in the Village of Mikawa, Hyogo Prefecture, and 23 houses were burned in the village of Hoyei, Nagano Prefecture, when a fire started in a farmer’s house. One fire fighter was killed in this blaze.
Chief of Secretariat,
Tokyo Metropolitan Fire Department