BISMARCK NEARLY DESTROYED
Bismarck had a most disastrous fire Monday morning last. The particulars are told in the following, taken from Tuesday's Post-Dispatch:
"'I could have saved Bismarck with a half gallon of water.' Standing in the smoking ruins of the entire business section of Bismarck, Mo., Monday afternoon, young Jacob Goeltz made this assertion, and there were none to gainsay him. Goeltz saw the flame, no longer than his hat, leap on the roof of his barber shop Monday morning at 9:30 o'clock. The local freight train stood puffing within 50 feet of his shop. Goeltz caught up a pitcher of water and ran through his garret to the roof. The water dashed out the fire save in one spot, hardly larger than Goeltz's hands. He needed a half gallon of water to extinguish this blazing patch of shingles. The time that it took for his neighbors to start the municipal pump and raise this bit of water cost Bismarck her business center, cost her citizens $100,000 and left 200 people homeless.
In 30 minutes the fire had destroyed two solid blocks of business houses, jumped to twenty residences and two churches and leaped a valley to reach a lumber yard five blocks away. From the postoffice north to Leggitt's corner hardware store, two blocks away, one small chimney stood like a monument in the ruins. A rectangular square, two blocks to the side, was swept like a chess board when the game is done.
Bismarck was a town of frame houses laid as carefully for the flames as if by design. The Iron Mountain's 50 passing trains a day, not over 60 feet from the main street, were the tinder box. Monday the high wind blew from the south and the shingles were dry as a mouse's nest. The conditions that made Bismarck ripe for burning also indirectly caused the heavy loss that her people suffered. The insurance rates were put so high that few insured. Hence the insurance companies loss is less than $15,000.
Bismarck was on fire twice Monday morning. The second fire wrought destruction. The postoffice building, 50 feet from the Iron Mountain depot, and the southern limit of the burned district, caught first. Andy Cummings, Jr. ran to the roof, smothered the incipient blaze, and gave Bismarck a half hour of life. Within 30 minutes Goeltz saw the fire on his roof and in 30 minutes later only rock foundations told where the business blocks east of Main street stood.
Dr. J. J. Norwine saw the blaze on Goeltz's roof, and he knew Bismarck's dangerous predicament well enough to grasp the entire situation. 'The town is gone! Don't fight the fire, but save your things!' he shouted, running the length of the two blocks. The people were brought to reason by his cries. They dropped water buckets and piled into the burning houses, women vieing with men, and children carrying bundles larger than themselves. The fire drove them out in 10 minutes, and, standing on the railroad track, they saw their homes and property vanish into flames, smoke and ashes.
Goeltz's house was two buildings distant from the north end of the business district. The fire finished with his property in five minutes. Then it fastened on Barth's saloon, and crackled and burned with its alcoholic stimulant. The Commercial Hotel, Collier's drug store and McAuff's store were tissue in its path. From McAuff's the fire made an easy leap across the street. Winstead's store, Dr. J. J. Norwine's office, the Riley millinery store, went up in successive puffs. The flames lit easily on the City Hotel, three stories and 58 rooms, the pride of Bismarck."
Bismarck has 800 inhabitants.
L. N. Kirkpatrick, dwelling, $800; no insurance.