Minneapolis, MN fire, Aug 1893

LICKED UP BY THE FLAMES

TWO MILLIONS OF PROPERTY LOST IN MINNEAPOLIS.

Fifteen Hundred Persons Made Homeless - Body of Mill Hands Obliged to Jump Into the River to Escape the Fire - It Spread With the Greatest Rapidity and Was Started In a Number of Places by Flying Sparks Carried by the Storng Wind - List of Losses.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., Aug. 13. - About $2,000,000 worth of property was destroyed by fire this afternoon. Over 200 houses are burned and at least 1,500 persons are rendered homeless.

It was a little after 1 o'clock when a watchman saw a small blaze on the river side of J. B. Clare & Co.'s box factory on the soth end of Nicollet Island, at the head of St. Anthony Falls. By the time the department arrived, the flames, fanned by a furious south wind, had gained such headway that all the firemen could do was to turn their attention to adjoining property.

Nearly all the structures in the neighborhood were of wood and dry as tinder. Clarke's factory was destroyed before a stream of water could be thrown upon it. Next to it, north, Lenhart's Wagon Works and the Cedar Lake Icehouses were wiped out. Further north are Lintjes & Connell's Boiler Works, and here the heaviest loss on the island took place. This firm had a stock valued at over $50,000, and no insurance. The other losers are fairly well insured.

While this fire was at its height a spark alighted on Boom Island, nearly a half mile above Nicollet Island. This island is occupied as a wood yard by the lumber firm of Nelson, Tenney & Co., and soon the place was ablaze.

Quickly jumping across the small stretch of water separating the island from the mainland, the flames gained a footing in Nelson, Tenney & Co.'s lumber yard, where there were piled some 10,000,000 board feet of lumber. The fire swept through the yard and into that of E. W. Backus & Co. adjoining. Great embers flew through the air and started fires many blocks beyond the places where the firemen were at work.

Beoyond the lumber yards were the two mills belonging to E. W. Backus & Co. Of these nothing remains except the smokestacks and a mass of twisted machinery and charred timbers. J. B. Chattenton's post mill went the way of the others, as did the sash and door factories of Fulton & Libbey and J. W. Wilcox & Co.

At the corner of Marshall Street and Thirteenth Avenue, northeast, is the brewery of the Minneapolis Brewing Company. This, it seemed, must surely go, but the wind changed, and, although the brewery was surrounded by wooden buildings, it was saved, and it is the only structure from the river back to Marshall Street, a distance of three blocks, that escaped the fire.

East of the burned mills were many stores and residences, which were burned. Most of them were frame buildings occupied by the employes of the mills and laboring men. Few owned their dwellings, and their principal losses will be their personal effects. No loss of life is reported.

About 6 o'clock the fire jumped the river, and for some time the west side sawmills district was in great danger. Fortunately the flames were extinguished before much damage was done.

Hundreds of people are either the recipients of charity or are sleeping in the open air to-night.

Between the Plymouth and Twentieth Aveune North bridges on the east side of the river there juts out into the river a point of land upon which some 100 people, principally laborers and sawmill hands, reside. The fire soon cut off their escape by land and they were in imminent danger of being burned to death. No boats were at hand, and the residents were forced into the river in order to save their lives.

Previous to this they attempted to save their personal effects. Bedding, tool chests, furniture, and even clothing were thrown into the river, the owners hoping that they might be able to recover them some time. All this time great crowd-lined the bridges and watched a big flatboat making slow headway toward the unfortunate people in the river.

The heat was most intense, and many of the men in the water were compelled to duck their heads under it to prevent the flames from scorching their faces and hair.

One brave fellow stripped himself, and unaided brought a number of his neighbors across the river befored [sic] the flat boat arrived, when all were rescued.

The Nicollet Island losses are as follows:

Clark box factory, $50,000, insured; Lenhart wagon works, $15,000, partially covered by insurance; Lintges & Connell, $60,000, insurance $11,000; E. S. Coffin, box factory, $2,000, insured; Cedar Lake Ice Company, $2,000, insured; Bergman Lounge Company, $2,300, insured.

Other small losses bring the total loss on the island up to $175,000.

E. W. Backus & Co. place their loss at over $1,000,000. They state that they had 60,000,000 board feet of lumber worth $750,000 alone, and that this is a total loss. Their mills are also gone, and these they claim were worth at least $250,000. It is impossible to learn their insurance at present, but it is believed that they are well protected.

Capt. Crake of Fire Headquarters was taken to his home with his left leg injured. He was working near Ninth Avenue, Northeast, and slipped and fell to the ground.

Capt. Pollock of No. 6 was overcome with the heat while fighting the fire and was removed to his home.

The New York Times, New York, NY 14 Aug 1893
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MINNEAPOLIS'S BIG FIRE.

Nearly a Square Mile Burned Over - List of the Losses.

MINNEAPOLIS, Aug. 14. - The big fire was stopped last night at Twentieth Avenue North, after burning over nearly a square mile of territory. It burned about 150 houses, averaging from $500 to $3,000; 40,000,000 feet of lumber, worth $480,000; 10,000,000 feet of lath and 10,000,000 feet of shingles, worth $40,000; thirteen mills, mostly saw mills and sash and door factories, and a number of ice houses and smaller concerns. An unknown child was burned to death, and Thomas Faloon lost his life from heart failure due to excitement. Several hundred people are homeless.

Following is a revised list of losses with insurance:

E. W. Backus & Co., lumber yards; loss, $400,000; insurance, $300,000. Two mills; loss, $150,000; insurance, $100,000. Barns: loss, $14,000; insurance, $8,000.

Minneapolis Brewing and Malting Company: barns, bottling houses, and malthouse, loss, $100,000; insurance, $60,000.

John F. Wilcox, planing, sash, and door mills: loss, $80,000; insurance, $60,000.

Linteges, Connells & Co., boiler works, loss, $60,000; insurance, $10,000.

J. R. Starke & Co., box and ladder factory: loss, $50,000; insurance, $25,000.

Shevlin, Carpenter & Co. planing mill, dry kiln; loss, $25,000; insurance, $15,000.

Nelson, Tenny & Co., Mill "G"; loss, $20,000; insurance, $15,000.

F. A. Lennelt, carriage works; loss, $15,000; insurance, $11,000.

Fulton-Libbey Company, sash and door warehouse; loss, $40,000; insurance, $25,000.

Smith & Kurigen mill; loss $15,000; insurance, $8,000. Cedar Lake Ice Company; icehouse, $10,000; insurance, $10,000. J. B. Chattoten, cedar post mill; loss, $15,000; insurance, $10,000. George W. Higgins & Co., woodyard; loss, $5,000; insurance, $2,000. Wernicke Company, wood specialties; loss, $1,000; insurance, $1,000. E. S. Coffin, lumber; loss, $2,000; insurance, $1,000. Miscellaneous - icehouses, dwellings, &c.; loss, $75,000; insurance, $75,000. City of Minneapolis, bridge span; loss, $5,000. Total loss, $1,084,500; insurance, $736,000.

The New York Times, New York, NY 15 Aug 1893
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FIRE'S HAVOC

Two Million Dollar Blaze at Minneapolis and Over 1,000 People Homeless.

Started in Clarke's Box Factory on the South End of Nicollet Island.

Aided by a Strong Wind the Brave Firemen Were Unable to Cope With the Monster.

Great Embers Were Borne Through the Air and Started Fires Many Blocks Beyond.

Wind Shifted When the Flames Reached the Mammoth Brewery and Saved the Manufacturing Interests.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., Aug. 13. - Two million dollars worth of property went up in flames this afternoon. Over 200 houses are burned, and at least 1,500 persons are rendered homeless. This is the record made by the destroying element in the short space of two hours. A kind providence, and not the fire department or the feeble efforts of the owners of threatened property, saved the greater portions of the East Side. The fire had gained such headway that no human agency could quench it, and only a change in the direction of the wind prevented an awful conflagration.

It was a little after 1:30 o'clock when a watchman saw a small blaze on the river side of J. B. Clarke & Co.'s box factory on the south end of Nicollet Island at the head of St. Anthony falls. An alarm quickly followed by a second and third was turned in, but by the time the department had arrived the flames, fanned by a furious south wind, had gained such headway that all the firemen could do was to turn their attention to adjoining property. Where the fire first started is a mystery, but it is thought it originated either in Lenhart's wagon works or in an ice house belonging to the Cedar Lake Ice company immediately adjoining. Nearly all the structures in this vicinity were of wood, dry as tinder and made splendid fuel for the flames. Clarke's box factory was doomed before even a stream of water was thrown upon it. Next to it on the North Lenhart's wagon works and the Cedar Lake ice house were wiped out of existence. Further north were Lintges & Connell's boiler works and here the heaviest loss on the island took place. This firm had a stock valued at over $50,000 and not a cent of insurance. The other losers are fairly insured.

Mischievous Spark

While this fire was at its height a spark carried high in the air alighted on Boom Island, nearly half a mile above the fire on Nicollet Island. This Island is occupied as a wood yard by the lumber firm of Nelson Tenney & Co. No one noticed the spark fall, but the whole island was soon ablaze. It was this spark that caused the greatest loss. Quickly jumping across the small stretch of water surrounding the island from the main land, the flames gained a footing in Nelson, Tenney & Co.'s lumber yard, where there was piled some10,000 feet of lumber. The fire fairly walked through this yard and into that of E. W. Backus & Co., adjoining. By this time it was impossible to stop it even had the whole fire department been on hand. Great embers flew through the air and started fires many blocks beyond the places where firemen were at work. The flames were simply irresistible. Brick and stone structures fell as easy victims as the merest shells. Beoyond the lumber yard were the two saw mills belonging to E. W. Backus & Co. Of these nothin remain except the smokestacks and a mass of twisted machinery and charred timbers. J. H. Cattenton's cedar post mill went the way of the others, as did the sash and door factories of Fulton & Libbey and J. F. Wilcox & Co.

The Wind Changed

At the corner of Marshall street and Thirteenth avenue, northeast, stood the mammoth brewery of the Minneapolis Brewing Company. This it seemed must surely go but at this time the wind changed and although the brewery was surrounded by wooden buildings it was saved, and this was the only structure between Sixth avenue to Thirteenth avenue northeast and from the river to Marshall street, a distance of three blocks, that escaped the fire. The big brewery acted as a sort of shield and in a measure protected the property to the north. had it burned nothing could have prevented the fire from running north as far as it could find anything to burn. Along the river were situated the sawmills and wood and lumber yards and these two would have gone the way of the others and nearly the entire saw mill industry of the city would have been destroyed.

The change in the direction of the wind imperiled the lumber yards and mills on the west side of the river and they were almost at the mercy of the flying sparks and embers. The firemen were powerless to render any assistance for to reach the Plymouth and Twentieth avenues' north bridges, it would have been necessary to pass through a furnace. The bridges, too, were on fire and there was nothing to do but hope for the best until some apparatus could make a detour of three miles and reach the fire. The employes in the yards, however, ahd not been idle. They stretched lines of hose and any spark that found a footing across the river was promptly squelched.

Residences Burn.

Along the east bank of the river were located the mills and lumber yards which were burned, while east of them were wooden structures and generally occupied by the employes of the mills and laboring men. Few owned their dwellings and their principal losses will be their personal effects. Large numbers saved their household goods, which they stacked in piles, over which they stood guard to prevent their being carried off by thieves. At the brewery, where the fire was checked, citizens did much to aid firemen. With garden hose and buckets they extinguished all incipient blazes and with the change of the wind all danger was practically over and the fire was allowed to burn itself out.

All available fire aparatus in the city was in use and St. Paul sent two engine companies in response to calls for assistance.

As yet no loss of life is reported and it is believed that all the occupants of the houses escaped with their lives. They were all warned in time and none need have been lost. It is rumored that two or three men were penned in by the flames while trying to rescue some of their property.

The Losses.

It is next to impossible to estimate the loss. The owners of the property themselves in many cases are unable to give any estimates. Nelson, Tenney & Co. lost about 10,000,000 feet of lumber and some wood; Backus & Co., two saw mills and probably a like amount of lumber. Their loss will probably be at least $250,000. All were well insured. On the small buildings the losses only been estimated. There are probably 200 small buildings burned, together with their contents.

The damage to Clarke's box factory on Nicollet Island is estimated at $50,000; insured. Thomas Sloane, an old man 50 years of age, fell dead from heart disease caused by the excitement. Several firemen were slightly injured.

Crossed the River.

About 6 o'clock the fire jumped the river and for some time the West Side saw mill district was in great danger. Fortunately the flames were extinguished before much damage was done.

At 10 o'clock tonight the East Side ruins were still ablaze, but the fire is under control. Hundreds of people are either the recipients of charity or are sleeping in the open air tonight. Many saved only the clothes on their backs. Between the Plymouth and Twentieth avenue, north, bridges, on the east side of the river, juts out into the river a point of land on which some 100 people, principally laborers and saw mill hands, reside. The fire soon cut off their escape by land and they were in immediate danger of being burned to death. No boats were at hand and the residents were forced into the river in order to save their lives. Previous to this they attempted to save their personal effects. Bedding, tool chests, furniture and even clothing were thrown into the river, the owners hoping that they might be able to recover them some time. All this time great crowds lined the bridges and watched a big flat boat making slow headway toward the unfortunate people in the river. The heat was most intense and many of the men in the river were compelled to duck their heads under the water to prevent the flames from scorching their faces and heads. One brave fellow stripped himself and [illegible] brouth a number of his neighbors across the river before the flat boat arrived, when all were rescued.

Salvation of the East Side.

The mammoth brewery of the Minneapolis Brewing Company was the salvation of the east side. Had not this great structure stopped the furious flames which raged around it, nothing would have prevented the fire from extending as far north as it would have found anything to burn. [illegible] on it was directly in the path of the flames with wooden buildings on one side of it and a blazing lumber yard in the rear, it seemed as if this magnificent edifice costing $500,000 would be added to the long list of property destroyed.

Thirteenth avenue, northeast, should have marked the northern limit of the fire. This would have been the case had not a small whirlwind, as it is called, swept down the street and scattered the embers from Backus' lumber yard over the surrounding property. As it was the property burned was mostly small structures near the river. Nevertheless they were houses and homes of poor men, who could afford no better and who lost their all when they were burned out.

It was a gallant fight that was made at the brewery. Away down at the n orthwest corner of the bguilding, within 300 feet of a blazing lumber pile crouched a pipeman from hose company No. 18. The heat was almost intolerable, but this brave fellow remained faithful and directed a powerful stream of water into the fiery furnace and in a great measure prevented the rear of the brewery from taking fire. This is only one of the instances of individual heroism.

The flames kept on their way and were not subdued until they had reached sixteenth avenue north. At this point firemen and citizens combined managed to stop the flames to a certain extent. From Thirteenth avenue to Sixteenth, and from the river to Marshall street was one seething mass of flames. In all there were about fifty families who occupied this portion of the city.

Driven From Home.

The scene at this point was a pitiful one. Family after family remained in their houses until they were obliged to leave by the intense heat. No one seemed to have insurance on their property, and as they were all poor they strained every effort to get what they could to a place of safety. It was reported that several men, while attempting to save some of their furniture, were burned severely about the face and hands, but their names were not learned. They were taken to the homes of other families where they received attention. Owing to the confusion little could be learned in the line of refugees, while the St. Anthony Turner society threw open its great hall to 100 families.

Charitably diposed persons supplied provisions, and as a greater number of the unfortunate had saved bedding they passed the night very comfortably. Tomorrow active relief measures will be taken.

The Omaha World Herald, Omaha, NE 14 Aug 1893

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