Archive for Wednesday, May 16, 2012

100 years ago: ‘Elegant’ Mass St. home destroyed by fire; lack of neighborhood water mains blamed

May 16, 2012


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for May 16, 1912:

  • "Nothing remains this afternoon of the elegant George Chambers home on South Massachusetts street but a heap of smoldering, water-soaked cinders, a couple of tall brick chimneys and a pile of smoked and broken furniture. The home was almost totally destroyed by a fire this morning which began shortly after 10 o'clock. The estimated loss is between $10,000 and $15,000 to both the house and the furniture. Of this amount but about $8,000 is covered by insurance.... The origin of the fire is uncertain but it is said that it was caused by flames from a blow-torch with which a painter was working on the side of the building, removing the paint preparatory to applying a new coat. The painter who was doing this work refused to talk regarding the matter.... When the department made its run in response to the call they took 1,100 feet of hose with them but this was found to be insufficient to reach the fire and a wagon was sent back to the station for more hose. The nearest water plug is at the corner of the 1900 block of Massachusetts street and it was from here that the water had to be secured. W. H. Rhenish, chief of the fire department, stated this afternoon that had there been sufficient water on hand this morning he would have been able to have kept the loss down to $200.... Mr. and Mrs. George Chambers are very thankful for the way their friends and neighbors helped during the fire today. It was a trying position but the people came in and rendered every possible assistance."
  • [Editorial] "The Chambers fire this morning is unfortunate, but it ought to and will call attention to the fact that thousands of dollars worth of property is absolutely without fire protection on the South side. Why not extend the water mains at once? For years there has been agitation and for years the necessity has been great. The Chambers house could have easily been saved with plenty of water accessible. It is locking the stable door after the horse is stolen in one sense, but there is a lot of valuable property on the South Side that is still unprotected. It is time to protect the fastest growing residence part of the city. The city council should act and act at once."
  • "Kansas University must not smoke cigarettes in the University buildings on the steps or even on the campus according to a resolution passed at the meeting of the Board of Regents held today at the University. Further than this the regents have ordered that this resolution must be rigidly enforced by all of the Kansas University officials. This came as a sudden piece of legislation on the part of the board as such action has not even been rumored."
  • "A telegram was received by Woodland Park management stating that the aeroplane, which was under contract to fly here tomorrow, had been wrecked and could not come until a later date."
  • "The temperature dropped to freezing point in northern Kansas today standing at 32 at Hays this morning. Damage to crops is reported. There were light frosts at Dodge City and Concordia, Kansas."


Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

About that fire, wow. A painter was using a blow-torch to remove paint from the side of a house. I have never heard of that method of paint removal, but I'm sure it works quite well. That is, if you don't mind the collateral damage of the house burning down.

"The painter who was doing this work refused to talk regarding the matter."

I can certainly understand why. And just think, 100 years later it's still in the news.

FlintlockRifle 6 years ago

Using a blow-tourch was a way to removed old paint ,was a very common practice 60 years ago, I can remember my dad doing this , but he usually had a bucket of water and an old rag, he would have soaking in the bucket to put of a fire, but you didn't get the wood that hot, just hot enoug to loosen the paint.

RoeDapple 6 years ago

I've used a heat gun for the same purpose. Much like a hair blow dryer but much hotter. And no flame.

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