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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

Sheboygan Herald: Sheboygan, Wisconsin Saturday, February 25, 1899,   pp. 37-38

Page 37

The train consisted of two flat cars and a caboose. George Porth says the party was
greatly relieved when it reached the end of the journey, as the train ran at the rate of about
a mile a minute and the caboose shook dreadfully. To stand up in it was out of the
question. The train left Milwaukee at 10:43 last night and arrived at Port Washington at
11:16. There were horses ready to hitch onto the engines, but beyond that the Port
Washington people gave little assistance. All the officials who returned to Milwaukee
criticize most of the Port Washington people because they refused to assist the
Milwaukee firemen. After the two men were disabled Assistant Chief Clancy was on the
point of ordering the engines to stop pumping as he had not enough men left to man the
hose. The Milwaukee officials arrived home at 7:15 this morning.
The Fire Originated in the Wis. Chair Co.'s Plant---Six Blocks Destroyed.
Fire broke out at 9:15 in the veneering department of the Wisconsin Chair Co's
plant in Port Washington last Sunday evening and was totally destroyed. The fire spread
rapidly and the city fire apparatus gave out early, which made it necessary to call on
Milwaukee and Sheboygan for aid. Two engines were sent from Milwaukee and one
from Sheboygan. The hose cart sent from this city was in charge of Capt. Anton Buechel
and three men from the south side department. Chief Sandrok also went along. At one
o'clock Monday morning the fire had spread toward the business center and six square
blocks had been wiped out. The Wilson House, the largest hotel in the city, caught fire
and was destroyed [Editor's note: the preceding fact is incorrect. The Wilson House was
not destroyed]. Surrounding the chair factory were lumber yards, which were soon in
flames. The fire spread across the river and an unoccupied foundry and several fishing
shanties were also burned. The fire then spread northward and westward into the
business districts and the building on the east side of Franklin Street and the Postal
Telegraph Company's office and a large number of other buildings were destroyed.
About thirty families are homeless, though most of them saved their household goods.
When the Milwaukee fire department arrived in Port Washington, at about 11 o'clock,
having made the run of twenty-five miles in twenty-eight minutes, the local department
was standing about, all their hand apparatus having been broken down from overstraining
the pumps. At 1 o'clock they were reinforced by the Sheboygan crew and soon after the
second crew from Milwaukee arrived and at 2:30 the fire was under control.
The chair factory was owned by a company made up of State Senator F. A.
Dennett, John Dennett and others of Port Washington. The loss to the chair factory is

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