Volunteers Prevent Spread of Lumberyard Fire in Village Business District
CHIEF QUENTIN C. WILSON
A CALL for fire in the Wasson lumberyard in the business district of Eldorado, Ill., came into the fire station at 6:50 a.m., November 9, 1959. It was immediately transmitted on the radio alerting system. The outside temperature at the time was 32<sup>°</sup> and the wind was from the south at five miles per hour.
The writer arrived just behind Pumper No. 1 and found the entire building filled with dense black smoke. The firemen were told that the fire had started when a coal heater blew up. Using two high-pressure lines and masks, the men attempted to reach the seat of the fire. The smoke and heat were so dense, however, that it was not possible to advance more than 10 to 12 feet into the building. A 1 1/2-inch line was then put into use, hooked up to a hydrant in reverse lay with two sections of 2 1/2-inch hose. Meanwhile, Pumper No. 2 was ordered out by radio.
At 6:58 a.m., we radioed for mutual aid from three towns: Harrisburg, 8 miles away: Carrier Mills, 15 miles, and Carmi, 25 miles. At 7:25, the Carmi pumper was in operation.
The fire traveled rapidly to all parts of the building through 1,200-foot open runways. Above the runways was a sealed-off attic with no openings. On opening the roof at one spot, heat and flame were so great that it was impossible to operate a line in the opening.
In addition to lumber, the building housed paints, thinners and drums of turpentine. It was apparent that the lumberyard was a total loss and, with the wind blowing toward the adjoining buildings, it became a question of keeping the fire walls as cool as possible. This tactic was successful and at 11:30 a.m., the mutual aid apparatus was released. At 6 p.m., all pumps were released from the scene and two watch lines were operated at hydrant pressure until 6 a.m. on the 10th.
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The building was valued at $30,000, and the contents at $90,000. As it turned out, a quantity of paint was salvaged with the labels intact, as well as some building supplies, nails and lumber and plywood that can be used by sawing off the burned ends. The adjoining business buildings suffered some smoke damage, but no fire or water damage.
Eldorado is a town of 4,500 persons, with a privately owned water company. It is believed quite an accomplishment to operate five 500-gpm pumpers for four hours and not run out of water. According to the manager of the water company, the firemen pumped in excess of 400,000 gallons of water. Standpipe pressure at the start was 60 pounds, and at the time the mutual aid equipment was sent home, it was 30 pounds.
While more than 50 men operated at the blaze, there were no injuries. I he only untoward incident occurred when one section of the more than 4,500 feet of hose stretched on the streets burst.