War Plant Destroyed by $2,000,000 Fire
The most costly and one of the most spectacular fires in the history of Portland, Ore., on February 2 destroyed the west side war production plant of the Iron Fireman Manufacturing Company, builders of Liberty ship engines. Loss was estimated at $2,000,000.
The plant, composed of a number of buildings varying from one to four stories in height, some of wood-frame and others of brick construction, occupied two city blocks.
The cause of the fire was unknown. In the destruction were twenty-four Liberty ship engines, four complete and the others in various stages of manufacture. A completed engine has a value of slightly less than $100,000.
Acetylene tanks in the plant exploded at intervals as the flames spread with great rapidity, and police had to push back spectators just before the first of a number of sixty-gallon drums of kerosene on an adjacent sidewalk exploded under terrific heat.
The first alarm was turned in at 6:12 p.m., but so rapid was the spread of flames that firemen could save only the south end of an L-shaped machine shop. The blaze was under control two hours after its inception and after seven alarms had brought nearly all of the city’s fire equipment to the scene.
Day-shift firemen and civilian defense auxiliary fire corps were called to augment the night shift in battling the blaze. Cost Guard fire units also gave aid. Utilized were twenty-six pieces of fire apparatus, two fireboats, thirty-three civilian defense auxiliary companies.