VAN WERT BUSINESS BLOCK DESTROYED
The fire which occurred in Van Wert, Ohio, on October 6, was one of considerably greater proportions than usually visits the small places of from six to seven thousand inhabitants. It was certainly a fire such as even the well equipped large city departments would have found worthy of their best efforts to combat. The fire was discovered a few minutes before midnight in the rear of the large five-story department store building of the Bonnewitz & Co. dry goods and department store. The fire was discovered at the rear of the second floor, near the freight elevator shaft. The fire progressed so rapidly that when the fire department arrived the blaze was coming out at the top of the elevator shaft in large volume. The building was a substantial structure of brick and steel and was about three years old; but while comparatively new it had no special fire protection. The department brought to the fire its two Ahrens steamers. One was new and the other had just been rebuilt. There was also available a hose wagon and a ladder truck. Four engine streams were used and three from the hj’drants, making seven available at one time. The hydrants were of the double, 6-inch type, and a hydrant pressure of 85 pounds was recorded and continued good throughout, the water system being of the direct pumping type. The nozzles ranged from ⅞-inch to 1¼ inch. There were no special nozzles or fire tools of that variety used. The two nearest hydrants were 80-foot apart, but as to the availability of the others we have not been informed. The width of streets on two sides of the building were 70 feet and 100 feet, but on the other sides the fire spread to the hardware store of Jones & Tudor, in a two-stor> brick building. This was a total loss as well. An implement store to the rear of the Bonne witz building had its roof caved in and the contents damaged by water. The firemen in the beginning carried their hose up to the third floor and attempted to confine the fire to the second floor, but they were soon driven back All the floors were stocked with highly in flammable material, and in 30 minutes after the fire was discovered the east wall fell in, and fifteen minutes later the upper portion of the west wall fell on the Jones & Tudor store and started the fire there. It was hoped at first to save this building, as there was a 33-inch fire wall between it and the Bonnewitz building, but when the wall fell from above it wem down through the roof, carrying fire with it. Three thousand feet of cotton hose was used. None of it burst, but two sections were lost under the falling walls. Several nearby buildings other than those mentioned were on fire at times, but in each instance the flames were quickly quenched. Messages for assistance were sent to several cities, and the department from Delphos responded, but they did not unload their apparatus, as the fire was under control when they arrived. The loss on the property is stated by our Van Wert informant as $200,000. The insurance on the buildings was $40,000, and on the stock it was $107,000. The Bonnewitz building cost $60,000, and the stock was estimated at about $140,000. The hardware store totaled a value of $72,500 on building, stock and fixtures and the insurance amounts to $61,500.