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.


Port Washington Star
February 25, 1899


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 thought 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 near by 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 conveyed to a safe spot. For six hours it seemed as though the entire city was doomed to destruction and no one within a half dozen blocks surrounding hestitated to pack up their valuables and move out.

Meanwhile, and as soon as the disaster to the force pumps and engine became known, Mayor Chas. A. MUELLER wired Milwaukee and Sheboygan for aid. Prompt response was given and Companys Nos. 4 and 10 from Milwaukee and a company from Sheboygan were sent here. They arrived here between 11 and 12 o'clock and by excellent work confined the conflagration within the limits above stated.

At 6 o'clock Monday morning the fire had been so far subdued that it was decided to send home the Sheboygan company. Milwaukee company No. 4 was sent home at 8 o'clock, while No. 10 remained and worked among the ruins until noon.

No cause for the origin of the fire has yet been learned although the general supposition is that it caught fire from overheated steam pipes. Supt. HOLDEN, who was one of the first on the scene, gave this story of the progress of the fire: "When it was discovered in the veneering room we immediately secured several streams from the steam pumps which had been especially placed in the factory for fire protection and were getting the blaze well in hand when the fire wall of the factory collapsed on the building built for the steam pumps, crushing the pumps and making them useless. After that we were helpless and the flames spread rapidly in all directions."

Twenty-seven Families Homeless

The losses include twenty business concerns and twenty-seven homes, that number of families being made homeless. The heaviest loss of course falls on the chair factory. In addition to all its brick buildings, machinery and stock, it loses 800,000 feet of hardwood lumber which when once on fire furnished excellent fuel. The unused foundry building of the Western Malleable & Gray Iron Co., was partly stored with chairs belonging to the chair company and these were all burned. In all the other houses burned, the contents were as a rule saved because othe occupants had plenty of time to take out their household goods. The chair company carried 90 per cent insurance so it is stated and is therefore well protected, but the foundry was only insured for $4,500, while all the smaller buildings destroyed were insured for about one-half their value. The owners therefore will suffer considerably by the fire losses.

Among the property threatened was the tannery of Mayor MUELLER, the WILSON house, and the post office, flames burning all around these buildings. Considerable dockage along the slip that connects with the harbor and the chair factory also was burned. The docks are the property of the chair company.

Fire Loss $400,000

Wisconsin Chair company, series of brick building covering two square blocks, 800,000 feet of hardwood lumber.

$350,000

Vacant foundry, three story brick buildings, owned by W. J. TURNER of Milwaukee, almost total loss

$14,000

Losses on Pier Street

Mrs. Nic. MARTIN, owner and occupant of story and one-half frame building; loss total

$500

Silas SISSON, occupant of story and one-half dwelling; loss

$100

L. MEHRENS, owner and occupant two-story brick, John RAESSER, also occupant; loss total

$2,500

Nic. POULL, owner and occupant, two-and-one-half story frame dwelling; loss total

$1,000

Nic. BURMISH, owner of vacant building, two-and-one-half frame; loss total

$1,000

John ROOB, owner and occupant, of two-story brick; loss total

$1,700

Losses on Washington Street

SMITH Bros. & LODDE, fish shanties, one-story frame; loss total

$500

L. LAMBERT, paint shop, one-story frame building; loss total

$500

Nic. POULL, blacksmith shhop, one-and-one-half story frame; loss total

$2,000

Louis MEHRENS, carpenter shop, one-story frame building; loss total

$500

MARTIN & WESTER, foundry and plow works, two story frame; loss total

$4,000

Michael WESTER, two-story frame residence, also occupied by N. BUCHHOLTZ; loss total

$1,500

Losses on Main Street

John SIEVERS, one-story frame barn; total loss

$100

WILSON House livery, two-story frame, owned by Frank WILSON and occupied by Joseph EIDENBERGER; total loss

$700

Joseph SCHUDER, two and one-half frame dwelling; total loss

$800

Losses on Franklin Street

George KUHN, rear, slaughter house and barn, one-story frame, total loss

$100

Joseph SCHUDER, two story frame; bakery; total loss

$2,000

Kate and Mary PELt, two-story brick, millinery store and dwelling; total loss

$3,000

N. S. BODE, two-story frame, saloon also barn in rear; total loss

$1,200

N. S. BODE, one-story frame cigar factory, total loss; occupied by Nicholas SCHNEIDER

$300

John C. SCHROELING, two-story dwelling; total loss

$500

Louis C. WAMBOLD, two-story frame, residences of Mr. WAMBOLD and barber shop of George HAUK; total loss

$1,800

Louis C. WAMBOLD, two-story frame dwelling, occupied by L. KNUDSON, Leo DOPPELSBERGER and C. HARTMEN; total loss

$800

George W. FOSTER, two-story brick, occupied by H. W. BUTZINE, jeweler and Dr. J. J. OBERST, veterinarian; loss slight

$500

Peter STURM, two story frame, shoe store and dwelling; loss total

$1,000

Mathew EIDENBERGER, one-and-one-half story dwelling, occupied by Joseph EIDENBERGER; loss total

$800

Edward NUENDORF, two-story frame, harness shop and dwelling; total loss

$800

Losses on Grand Avenue

Edward NUENDORF, two story dwelling, occupied by John ROETZER

$800

Edward NUENDORF, two-story frame dwelling, occupied by M. NETTER

$800

Peter BECKER, two-story frame dwelling, total loss

$800

Math EIDENBERGER, barn and sheds; total loss

$2,500

Joseph UBBINK, mason contractor, frame building; total loss

$300

TOTAL

$399,400

INSURANCE

Wisconsin Chair Co. supposed to be insured to 90 per cent of loss (list of companies not given out.)

$315,000

Vacant foundry building

$4,500

Mrs. Nic. MARTIN, dwelling and contents

$1,000

Silas SISSON, household goods

$200

Louis MEHRENS, dwelling and contents

$2,000

John RAESSER, household goods

--

Nic POULL, dwelling and shop

$1,300

Nic. BURMESCH, dwelling and contents

$1,000

John ROOB, dwelling and contents

$1,000

Mrs. Jacob LAMBERT, dwelling and contents

$1,000

SMITH Bros. & LODDE, fish house

$700

G. LAMPERT, paint shop

$580

MARTIN & WESTER, foundry and barn

$900

M. WESTER, dwelling

--

N. BUCHHOLTZ, household goods

--

John SIEVERS, barn

$500

Jos. EIDENBERGER, livery

none

Joseph SCHUDER, bakery and contents

$1,700

Geo. KUHN, outbuildings

fully insured

Kate and Mary PELT, store and contents

$1,300

N. S. BODE, saloon and contents

$1,200

N. SCHNEIDER, stock

$150

J. C. SCHROELING, dwelling and contents

$1,000

L. C. WAMBOLD, dwelling and contents

$1,300

L. KNUDSON, household goods

none

L. DOPPELSBERGER, household goods

none

C. HARTMANN, household goods

none

G. HAUK, barber shop

none

G. W. FOSTER, building

$1,000

H. W. BUTZINE, stock

$500

J. J. OBERST, office fixtures

--

Peter STURM, store and stock

$1,000

M. EIDENBERGER, barn and contents

$1,000

E. NEUNDORF, two buildings and stock

$1,200

John ROETZER, household goods

--

P. BECKER dwelling

$800

Jos. UBBINK, carpenter shop

none

Mr. MUELLER, household goods

--

M. NETTER, household goods

--

Will Probably Rebuild

President F. A. DENNETT, of the Wisconsin Chair Company, said Tuesday: "I think it is likely that we shall rebuild as soon as we can straighten out the losses on our factory, but I cannot decide definitely about rebuilding until the insurance is adjusted and paid. It will take time. Our loss is not alone on buildings and stock but the manner in which our business suffers is to be taken into consideration. It will take at least a year to rebuild and during that period our business will be practically at a standstill. That is the most serious aspect of the situation."

There will be no lack of prompt and systomatic aid on the part of our citizens in the rebuilding of our chief industry. Upon it depends the future of the town. It is a vital issue here. All kinds of stories have been circulated as to the supposed intentions of the company, but THE STAR assures its readers that the above paragraph represents Mr. DENNETT's views to a dot. However, it may depend upon the citizens of the town whether the mammoth factory is rebuilt, and every possible encouragement and assistance ought and certainly will be extended to Mr. DENNETT. As a Milwaukee newspaper puts it: "To permanently throw 600 men out of work would make it impossible for the town to continue to exist on the scale it has in the past."

City of Darkness

Since the fire the city has been in complete darkness every night, the electric light plant, which was in the chair factory, having been destroyed. The lighting plant was built by the company in 1891 and supplied the town with 2400-candle power lights. The dynamos have, of course, been destroyed with the balance of the apparatus in the power house, but all the wiring and lamps still remain intact. The council may decide to purchase new dynamos but just what arrangements will be made have not yet been determined. Until that time the city will remain dark. All private users have had to substitute oil lamps.

Relief Furnished

At a special meeting of the council on Monday it was decided to furnish prompt aid to needy and homeless people, and this has been done.

Starting up Again

On Monday efforts were made to find new quarters by the burned out people. The club rooms of the Y.M.S.C. have been secured by the Wisconsin Chair Company for temporary office use. E. NEUNDORF has opened his harness shop in the KRAUSE brick building opposite the postoffice. Jos. SCHUDER's bakery is now in the old PASTORET building. Jos. EIDENBERGER is located in the rear of the old GILSON foundry on Jackson street while Nic. POULL has his blacksmith shop in the other end of the same building facing Pier street. M. EIDENBERGER's dray outfit is in BOERGER's barn on Wisconsin street. Geo. HAUCK wants to open his barber shop in the rooms below the postoffice. Peter STURM's shoe store is now in the FUERST building adjoining the postoffice. The PELT girls will await the adjustment of their insurance before deciding what to do. N. S. BODE will likely rebuild but will hardly engage in business until his new place is ready. Nic. SCHNEIDER has not found a new place for a cigar shop. UBBINK and MEHRENS, carpenters, and LAMPERT, painter, have not found quarters yet. SMITH Bros. will try to keep on fishing and will erect temporary quarters at once. H. W. BUTZINE will continue in business at the same stand as his building is but little damaged. MARTIN & WESTER's foundry will not be rebuilt before the insurance is adjusted and paid. The old foundry building belonging to W. J. TURNER will hardly be rebuilt.

The dwellings and store buildings will in all probability be rebuilt, but it will depend on the chair company as to the character of the buildings constructed. If work on a new factory begins soon these buildings will be substantial and mostly of brick.

Notes about the Fire

It took only 20 minutes to unload the first Milwaukee fire engine after its arrival here but 7 minutes for each of the other two engines.

Engineer KRUKE had a narrow escape from a horrible death. He was dragged out of the force pump house but a few seconds before the walls of the dry house crushed down upon it.

Five thousand dollars will hardly pay the damage to household goods incurred through the hasty moving out of many families at Sunday night's fire. Much has been broken, some lost, other articles bruised and soiled, and probably a small quantity stolen. Goods were so widely scattered that for several days some were unable to locate all of their belongings.

Selfishness cropped out in unexpected place last Sunday night. There is no question that the fire could have been checked at Main street when the run-way collapsed, and all the northern part of the fire swept district saved, had it been possible to get the hand engine from across the harbor promptly. But it was nearly 45 minutes before stupidity could be made to see the necessity for the change, and then it was too late.

Carpenters and contractors and masons are already up to their necks in work. If fine weather continues there will be a building boom right away. Let every one who can build of brick.

Two Firemen Hurt

One of the saddest incidents of the whole fire was the accidents that befell two firemen. Capt. Patrick LINEHAN and Pipeman Michael HACKETT, Engine company No. 4, were working among the ruins at 3:30 o'clock when a chimney collapsed and fell on the company which was pouring water on the fire. The flames in that vicinity had been almost entirely subdued and the collpse came so suddenly that the fire fighters could not get away. Capt. LINEHAN and Pipeman HACKETT and a local volunteer fireman, A. M. KRAUSE, were caught in the debris. The two unfortunate men were picked up and carried into a store close by. KRAUSE's leg was severely bruised, but he was able to go home. LINEHAN and HACKETT were removed to the WILSON House where Drs. HORNBOGEN and HARTWIG attended them. It was found that LINEHAN's spine was injured, but his condition was not regarded as serious. HACKETT was not so fortunate. His spine was broken just below the base of the head and his body below his neck paralyzed. His condition was so serious that Father GROBSCHMIDT of the Catholic church was called to administer the last rites of the church. Later his cousin, Dr. James HACKETT, of Milwaukee, was notified. The 8 o'clock train from Milwaukee Monday morning brought out Dr. HACKETT, Mrs. LINEHAN and her brother-in-law, Patrolman DONAHUE. Mrs. LINEHAN gave directions for her husband's removal to the depot. It was decided to take both men to Milwaukee on the 10 o'clock train and shortly before that hour the firemen were carried down-stairs. Capt. LINEHAN was placed on a cot in one of the hose carts, Mrs. LINEHAN sitting on the front seat, while HACKETT, in charge of his cousin, was also laid on a cot and removed to the depot in a bus. A large crowd watched the proceedings and at the depot when the train arrived. The wounded men were placed in the baggage car on their cots. In the meantime, word was sent to Chief FOLEY to be ready to receive the wounded in Milwaukee.

The injured firemen had been made as comfortable as possible for the jouney, cots having been placed in a baggage car in order that the sufferers might not be disturbed by other passengers. At the Milwaukee depot ambulances were in waiting, and HACKETT was taken to St. Mary's hospital. Capt. LINEHAN, not so seriously injured, was unwilling to go to the hospital, and was taken to his home, 1928 Clybourn street.

HACKETT had little or no chance of recovery. When the bricks from the chimney fell, HACKETT was struck just below the neck, injuring the spine in a manner which the physicians stated must prove fatal, as the spinal cord was partially severed. In addition to this injury, HACKETT suffered with a number of bruises about the body. Death relieved the brave fellow from his sufferings at 2:30 o'clock Tuesday morning. He was conscious up to a short time previous to his death and suffered greatly.

The brick wall which caused Capt. LINEHAN's injury struck him one the back, also affecting the spine, though not seriously. The bruise is nevertheless exceedingly painful, and it will be some time before complete recovery can be looked for. The doctors are of the opinion that the injury will not be fatal, however, and they are in hopes that no permanent injury will result.

HACKETT is 31 years of age, and has been in the fire department for about one year. He is unmarried and has boarded at Sycamore and Fifth streets. During his connection with the Fire department he has been assigned to Company No. 4.

Capt. LINEHAN is 41 years of age and the father of three children. He has been a member of the Fire department for many years and as captain of the Company No. 4 has an excellent record for efficiency.





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