Wester, Kevin J. (ed.) / Consumed by fire : a collection of writings about the famous Wisconsin Chair Company fire, Port Washington, Wisconsin, February 19, 1899
Port Washington Star: Port Washington, Wisconsin Saturday April 18, 1914, pp. 82-83 ff.
PORT WASHINGTON STAR PORT WASHINGTON, WISCONSIN SATURDAY, APRIL 18, 1914 A $40,000 FIRE. Destruction of Entire Wisconsin Chair Co. Plant Threatened. The most treatening fire since the great conflagration of 1899 visited Port Washington on Tuesday afternoon at 4:30 o'clock. At that time the large warehouse of the Wisconsin Chair Company, located on Lake street, and just across the street from the main plant, was discovered to be on fire. The city fire department responded promptly as did also the company's private fire fighting force, and within less than five minutes streams of water were being poured into the burning building. Adjoining the warehouse was the company's barns, which also were soon ablaze. It was a hard fire to fight. The flames had their origin in almost the center of the warehouse, which was filled with wrapped chairs and this made it very difficult to get at. The building was completely filled with stock and materials, and below were stored thousands of feet of cut wood stock which it was necessary to drown out before the fire was extinguished. For a time the main buildings of the plant were in danger but hard and intelligent work averted that calamity, coupled with the fact that there was no perceptible breeze and the flames shot straight skyward. Soon after the firemen got into action on the fire Mayor Bolens arrived on the scene with an auto load of hose from the private supply of the Gilson Mfg. Co., and as the danger seemed great, he immediately called Mayor Armbruster of Cedarburg over the long distance phone and arranged to have a load of that neighboring city's surplus fire hose placed on an extra Milwaukee-Northern car ready to be rushed here upon call, which action by our neighbors is gratefully appreciated by our people. About 5:30 o'clock, however, it appeared that progress was being made in subduing the fire and by 6:00 o'clock practically all danger of its spreading further was over. The fire department was on the job all night with five lines of hose, and three from the chair factory's private plant, and up to 9:00 o'clock the next morning, when the company decided that its own force could cope with the situation and the city's force withdrew. The fierceness of the fight to control this fire and keep it within the buildings where it started may be imagined when one learns the figures that show the amount of water pumped by the power plant, being 600,000 gallons for the 24 hours, which taxed both the capacity of the power plant and the water system to their utmost. That no breaks happened is testimony to the excellence of the work done when the city plant and water system were installed. The loss is conservatively estimated at $40,000, with about $32,000 of insurance. The most fortunate feature of this fire, aside from the narrow escape of the main plant
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