Table of Fires in Wooster, Ohio[edit | edit source]
Full Text Articles of Fires in Wooster, Ohio[edit | edit source]
- The Fire Fiend Visits Wooster Like a Thief in the Night, And Lays In Shapeless Ruins a Whole Business Block: The Block on the Southwest Corner of the Public Square Completely Destroyed by Fire A Blaze that Rivaled the Arcadome Fire in 1874 Probably the Work of an Incendiary 
On the last Friday morning about one o'clock the fire fiend visited our city with almost startling vengeance. Coming like a thief in the night, it obtained full mastery of the situation before the alarm could be sounded and its disastrous progress stayed at the very beginning, and hence Wooster suffered one of the greatest conflagrations known to its history. The business block between the Public Square and the Central House, facing east on South Market Street, where the day before were well-filled store-rooms and busy merchants was completely demolished, nothing but a shapeless mass of charred ruins being left to tell the story of its former usefulness.
In disastrous extent and the complete loss and destruction of property it RIVALED THE ARCADOME FIRE Which laid in ruins the famous Arcadome building in 1874, at that time one of the finest buildings in the city.
At about one o'clock, or perhaps a little after, the fire broke out in the rear of the room occupied as a grocery store by J. B. Power, and worked its way into the store-room, to a barrel of gasoline, which exploded attracting the attention of Policeman Huber, who gave the alarm, and aroused the people of the vicinity. Before the firemen reached the scene of the fire it had gotten under full headway, and the dry frame buildings, together with their inflammable contents, furnished excellent fuel for the leaping flames, whose lurid glare lit up the city until it was almost as light as day. The sparks which shot upward from the burning mass and floated over the city in a perfect cloud, presented a scene at once grand and imposing, and at the same time greatly endangered all the buildings in the neighborhood. The firemen, however, who promptly responded to the alarm, soon had THE ELEMENTS BATTLING.
For the mastery, and finally succeeded in confining the fire to the block in which originated. At first it seemed almost impossible to prevent it from spreading to other blocks, but the firemen with heroic pluck and constancy, ably assisted by the citizens, notwithstanding the bitter cold which froze the water to their clothing, until many of them were literally covered with ice, stand right by the fire until was finally forced to succumb. The fire had got under such headway before it was discovered that very little of the contents of the buildings were saved. It being at night quite a number took advantage of the excitement and confusion and did some wholesale pilfering, several being caught in the act of carrying goods off to convenient hiding places.
THE RESULT In looking over the result we find that ten business firms have been driven out, property to the amount of $35,000 or $40,000 being destroyed or rendered useless, on which there is an insurance amounting to about $18,000, divided among eleven companies. The following is a detailed statement of the losses and insurance --
James Lee, feed store, loss $1,200, insurance $800 in the Ohio Mutual.
Mrs. Philip Hine, building, loss $1,500; insurance $1,000 in the Delaware Mutual.
J. D. Power, grocery store, loss $3,000, insurance, $850 in Van Wert Mutual and $650 in the Allen County Mutual.
Hoefiler & Co, Cigar Manufacturers, loss $2,000, insurance, $1,000 in the Phoeniz Mutual, of Cincinnati, and $500 in the Home Company, of Columbus.
Hoffman & Son, Sewing Machines, loss $500, insurance, $500 in Wayne County Mutual.
R. H. Johnson - Notion Store, loss $500, insurance, $1,000 in Ohio Mutual.
Bolus & Forker, loss $100, no insurance.
Yocum & Taggart, law office, loss $100, no insurance.
Beta Theta Pi fraternity, furniture of Hall, loss $300; no insurance.
M.C. Rouch - Law offices, loss $50, no insurance.
J. S. Duden - Shoe Store, shoes, loss $500; no insurance.
G. Kettler, shoemaker, loss $25; no insurance.
E. M. Quinby, buildings, loss $4,000, fully covered by insurance in the Columbiana County Mutual.
The buildings in the block were all frame except the corner one, which was brick, and were an easy prey to the flames. They were all totally destroyed, leaving the brick building standing on the corner solitary and alone, roofless and badly damaged by smoke and water.
ORIGIN OF THE FIRE There are various conjectures as to the origin of this disastrous fire, the most probably one being that it was the work of an incendiary. It evidently started in the rear of Power's grocery, and taking the place and the time into consideration, the theory that it was set afire seems to be the correct one. Certain parties who were passing up Market street a few minutes before the fire was discovered, on their road to the depot to take the two o'clock train going east, report having seen two men coming down the stairway of the building. These two men were probably the villains who lit the fire. Mr. Power has been exceedingly unfortuante this winter, this being the second loss by fire he has sustained within a short time.
THE FIREMEN Deserve much praise for their efforts in checking the progress of the fire. That the performed their duty well in this trying emergency cannot be denied. They had a big job on hand, and many of them even went so far as to hazard their lives in the struggle against the fire-fiend, displaying the coolness and bravery characteristic of experienced firemen. They worked for fully five hours and saved a vast amount of valuable property to our city. That the buildings in the Square are standing today is due to their efforts and exertions. While they were working, Doc. Carr's cook and his other help at the Central House, made gallon and gallon of hot coffee, which was freely dispensed among the "fire laddies" who drank it with a relish and a hearty "thank you." In consequency of the lowness of the water in the reservoir the force of the streams from the hose was not as strong as usual, which was a serious impediment in the way of putting out the fire sooner. Fortunately none of the firemen were seriously hurt. Ben Potter was slightly bruised by a falling cornice, and Ad. Morris had his arm pretty badly injured by the bursting of a section of hose.
NOTES ON THE FIRE Doc. Carr, proprietor of the [Central Hotel]], returns his most heartfelt thanks to our gallant firemen, together with a number of citizens, who so strenuously labored, at the fire on last Friday morning, on his behalf. He is of the opinion that without that without their united efforts the old "Central" would now be only a mass of smoldering ruins. He will never forget them.
It is said that Captain H. R. Horn, of the Fire Department, did not know anything about the fire until 4 o'clock A. M., or two hours after it had commenced. Coming out of his house at 4 o'clock to fire up at the shop, he noticed the bright light in the west, and started off on a dead run, yelling fire at every jump. He was greatly surprised, on his arrival at the scene of the conflagration, that he was for once considerably behind time.
The "Company in White" at the Central Hotel on the morning of the fire attracted much attention. Captain Bill Brown, of the "Hoss Marines," endeavored to preserve order and disciple, but in vain His troops broke badly and he could not rally them. One of them, in undress uniform, wrapped herself in a large tablecloth, seized an unlighted lamp, rushed across the street, and came in contact with a post at Leis' corner-- the post was uninsured. Others scattered throughout the Hotel and wished to take out all the windows, but by hard work were prevented by the proprietress. Brown rather train twenty colts than to again take charge of such a company.
Foss &* Schwartz are the heaviest losers by the fire. Unfortunately for them they were carrying a very light insurance. But notwithstanding this disaster, the backbone is not yet taken out of the Wooster Brush Works. Messrs. Foss & Schwartz are both young men of enterprise and active business energy. Already they have rented the Curry room on East Liberty street, one door east of Barrett's Boiler and Engine Works, and will be running in full blast in a few days. They have made arrangements with an Eastern house to fill their orders which are outstanding, and their patrons will not suffer is the least by their misfortune. The Brush Works will soon be on its feet again and doing a bigger business than ever. The firm has plenty of capital to backfit, and is composed of young men who are not easily disheartened by disaster.
Chan Man, the laundryman, was badly frightened at the surging conflagration in the near vicinity of his place of business. While precipitately decamping with his wealth in a cigar box, he unfortunately stumbled and fell, scattering his hard earned silver over a considerable area. Although he did not burn out, he nevertheless mourns a lost due to the fire.
A temporary roof has been built over the brick building on the corner, and the Exchange Bank will continue business as usual at their old stand.
Yocum & Taggart have gotten their law office in shape again and will meet their patrons at the old place.
References[edit | edit source]
- Wooster Republican, Wooster, Ohio. 1881 February 3, p.3.