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Wester, Kevin J. (ed.) / Consumed by fire : a collection of writings about the famous Wisconsin Chair Company fire, Port Washington, Wisconsin, February 19, 1899
([1997])

Port Washington Star: Port Washington, Wisconsin February 25, 1899,   pp. 11-18


Page 11

PORT WASHINGTON STAR
PORT WASHINGTON, WISCONSIN
FEBRUARY 25, 1899
THE FIRE FIEND'S WORK
SUNDAY NIGHT'S DESTRUCTIVE VISITATION.
LOSS WILL REACH $400,000,---PARTLY INSURED
THE WISCONSIN CHAIR COMPANY'S ENTIRE PLANT AND SIX
BUSINESS AND RESIDENCE BLOCKS ARE TOTALLY DESTROYED
AND THIRTY FAMILIES MADE HOMELESS AND DESTITUTE.
EIGHT HUNDRED PEOPLE ARE THROWN OUT OF WORK,-
NEEDY ARE BEING CARED FOR TEMPORARILY.
SERIOUS BLOW TO CITY'S PROGRESS.
WITH PROMPT AND SYSTEMATIC AID OUR CHIEF INDUSTRY
WILL BE REBUILT.
Last Sunday evening at 9:15 o'clock fire was discovered in the veneering works of
the Wisconsin Chair Company's factory and before morning the entire plant of that
corporation and also six entire blocks of business houses and residences were a mass of
smouldering ruins. The burned district extends from Grand avenue on the south to Pier
street on the north, and from Franklin street east to the lake. The brick buildings on the
east side of Franklin street were saved, and one or two dwellings in the northern portion
of the fire swept district.
Heroic efforts on the part of our firemen and citizens had so far gotten the fire
under control that at 10:30 o'clock it was throught the flames would be confined to the
block bounded by Main, Franklin street, Grand avenue, and the harbor, but at that
moment the fire walls of the four-story veneering works collapsed, burying and crushing
the big force pumps nearby from which the water supply was had. About the same time
our little steam engine became disabled by overstraining, and our people were helpless.
When this fact was realized the workers became paralyzed. Despair seized upon
everybody and a scene of wild disorder and confusion ensued. There was a mad rush for
the houses in the threatened district, and soon the streets were thronged with excited
people bearing in their arms furniture, articles of wearing apparel, household goods of
every description, etc. Everywhere in the streets and on sidewalks, in yards and alleys, in
houses and barns outside the threatened district, household goods were promiscuously
strewed about. Every kind of vehicle was pressed into service and goods hurriedly


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