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 Telegram: Sheboygan, Wisconsin Thursday, February 23, 1899, pp. 30-31
Milwaukee firemen, and I am sure that much of the criticism has not been justified. I have no doubt that the Milwaukee firemen did have occasion for complaint, but I know that in some instances at least it was due to misunderstandings and in others to the action of irresponsible persons. In the excitement and confusion such as a great fire occasionally things happen and remarks are made which are afterwards regretted. Some of the disturbances were created by a rabble that was attracted by the fire and that was irresponsible. WHY THEY DID NOT HELP. "As to the local firemen refusing to help, I think that story came from the fact that we decided at 4 o'clock in the morning that it was useless to throw any more water on the acres of burning coals where the lumber had been piled. We thought it better to let the fire there burn itself out, as there was no wind and no more danger. This was probably not understood by the Milwaukee men who remained at work after we had sent them word we had breakfast ready for them." "Then, too, as to the failure to be ready for unloading the engine from Milwaukee, Chief Foley's dispatch announcing that it was coming was not received until the next morning, and we only knew the engine was coming a few minutes before it arrived. That was nobody's fault. The wires were down, but we have been blamed for that. The people of Port Washington appreciate all that was done for us. We don't want any controversy, but we do feel that we have received a good deal of abuse and criticism which was wholly unjust and uncalled for." MEASURES FOR RELIEF. Mr. Bolens said also that citizens were taking prompt measures for relief of those who would be left destitute by the fire. "We have already secured work in other chair factories for thirty or forty men and we shall take care of all who need help and cannot get work. Port Washington has no indebtedness. It has always been a well conducted city, taxes are low and there is a good deal of wealth in the town." Mr. Bolens said everyone was hopeful the factory would be rebuilt, and while the Messrs. Dennett could reach no decision until the insurance was adjusted, he believed that they would rebuild. Mr. Ramsay, one of the stockholders, it is said, will withdraw from the enterprise, but there are others in Port Washington who will furnish the additional capital that might be needed.
This material may be protected by copyright law (Title 17, US Code).| For information on re-use see: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Copyright