Lake Charles, LA City Fire, Apr 1910
5,000 ARE HOMELESS IN FIRE SWEPT CITY.
BUSINESS AND RESIDENCE SECTIONS OF LAKE CHARLES, LA., DEVASTATED -- LOSS $4,000,000.
DYNAMITE IS USED VAINLY.
APPARATUS RUSHED FROM OTHER PLACES ARRIVES TOO LATE TO AVERT RUIN -- AID RUSHED TO SUFFERERS.
Lake Charles, La., April 23. -- Fire destroyed most of this city of 15,000 inhabitants today. The property loss at 7 o'clock tonight is estimated by insurance underwriters at $4,000,000. Five thousand persons are homeless. While temporary camps have been erected beyond the fire area, there is much privation. Special trains, however, are carrying provisions and other supplies from nearby cities.
The fire started at 4 o'clock this sfternoon in the old French Opera House, almost in the centre of the city's business district. A fierce gale fanned the flames and almost before the work of combating them was under way the fire was leaping through streets lined with business houses, leaving ruin. In an hour's time thirty squares had been swept clean. The entire business section of the city, made up largely of new buildings, was destroyed.
The flames spread on into the residential section. Beautiful homes, many of which were built in the early part of the last century, went in a few moments. Ryan Street, the residence thoroughfare, was a path of ruin in an hour after the flames attacked the first home. It was not until dynamite was used that the fire was stayed. By this time practically every desirable home in the residential district and the big buildings in the business section had been destroyed. Special trains brought fire apparatus from Jennings and Alexandra, La., and Orange, Texas, but they arrived too late to do any real good.
Among the public buildings destroyed were the new Court House and City Hall, The Catholic Church and convent that have stood under three Governments, and the old St. Claire Hotel also went. Heirlooms of great value were destroyed in several Ryan Street residences.
While Lake Charles is one of the oldest communities in America, it was practically a new city. It is the centre of great lumber industry, and much rice is milled here.
The temporary camps on the outskirts of the fire area are sheltering thousands of homeless persons tonight. Hundreds partook of rice from nearby mills. This was boiled in big cauldrons in the camps. The night is cold, but bonfires prevent suffering. Every big commuinity in the State is sending offers of aid and the town will be rebuilt immediately.
While there was no disorder the Mayor tonight deemed it advisable to enlist the aid of the local company of Louisiana State troops, and the members of this organization were placed on guard in the burned district.
The New York Times New York 1910-04-24