1. #1
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    Default Historical Disasters

    What historical disasters have you run across?

    Butte, Montana
    Fire & Explosion
    January 16, 1895

    Terrible Loss of Life at Butte, Montana.


    The Fire Department Annihilated-Windows Demolished a Mile Away.

    fire broke out in the Butte Hardware Companys's warehouse near Butte City, Montana. There was a large quantity of giant powder stored in the building and when the Fire Department was fighting the flames the powder exploded killing every fireman except two. While the dead and wounded were being removed another explosion occurred which killed more persons, including several policemen and citizens. Many persons were torn to fragments and others were shocked to death by the concussion. Later a third explosion occurred increasing the number of deaths and adding to the ruin and devastation.

    The scenes in the vicinity of the warehouses are sickening. Fragments of bodies were strewn in every direction. Some of the victims were torn limb from limb, and their mangled and unrecognizable remains were scattered far and wide. Forty-three persons are known to have lost their lives and at least seven more are missing. The wounded number about one hundred. The buildings in the neighborhood were converted into hospitals and all the medical aid available engaged in relieving the suffering of the dying and wounded.


    In Butte City the excitement was intense. Windows were broken all over the city and the damage to property is enormous. The citizens at first supposed that an earthquake had shaken the city, but they soon realized their mistake, and every available conveyance was brought into requisition to reach the scene of the disaster. Relatives of the victims were frantic and general consternation prevailed among the inhabitants. The sidewalks were covered with broken glass and only ghastly ruins mark the site of the warehouses.


    The Legislature, which is in session at Helena, passed resolutions of condolence, and financial aid will be given those whose homes were destroyed by the explosions. The warehouses were owned by the Anaconda Mining Company, which is a very wealthy corporation will not feel the financial loss.


    The buildings destroyed by the fire and wrecked by the explosion, includes the warehouses of the Kenyon-Cornell Mercantile Company, the Butte Hardware Company, The Parchen Drug Company, the Schlitz Brewing Company and the Electric Light Works. The Great Northern freight depot and several other buildings are in ruins. The loss amounts to many thousand dollars, but the greater part of the property was insured.

    Daily Nevada State Journal, Reno, NV 17 Jan 1895

    The dead body of a small boy, JOHN O'LEARY, was picked up in East Gold street, several blocks from the scene, after the second explosion had occurred. There were no marks on his body, and he was evidently killed by the concussion.

    Only three working firemen escaped being killed. Chief CAMERON was blown to atoms, and the only thing found of him was his belt, attached to a charred portion of his body. The firemen who escaped were DAVID MOHER, DAVID MCGEE and J. R. FLANNERY. MCGEE gives the following version of the appalling catastrophe. "After reaching the fire we laid 1,000 feet of hose, and FLANNERY stayed at the hydrant. I drove up to the building with the hose and then drove back about 200 feet and stopped. A moment later the first explosion occurred in the building and the flames burst through the roof, but no one was hurt by this explosion. The boys then went back to the building again thinking the danger was all over. JACK SLOANE came over to the wagon and got an axe and started to cut an opening to the building. My brother WILLIAM got in the back of the wagon and advised me to drive further away for fear of another explosion. I told him there was no danger, and got down to blanket the horses. I usually get off on the inside nearest the fire, but this time the horses were between me and the fire and it is fortunate for me that such was the case. Just as I pulled the blankets down from the seat and spread one of them out to throw it over the horse the second explosion came. I did not see anything, and only remember hearing the awful roar and being knocked down. When I recovered a moment later I found the wagon partly on top of me with the tongue across my breast and the off horse was lying right on top of me. The blankets had caught fire. Pieces of wood were burning all round me and I was momentarily chocked and bewildered. I struggled to get loose but I was unable to free myself. People were screaming all round me and crying for help. I could hardly make my voice heard. After a while a man came along and I begged him for God's sake to help me out. With his assistance I managed to get out from the the weight that was pinning me down and struggled to my feet I limped along, but was getting along slowly when a couple of men came along and carried me to the Harrison house. From there I was brought home. The last I saw of JACK SLOANE, he was pounding away at the door, and when I saw CAMERON last he was taking the kinks out of the hose between the wagon and the burning building. All of the other boys were close behind SLOANE, and they were certainly all killed."

    The list of the dead was swelled by two of the injured, JOHN SLOAN, SR., and BAILEY DUNFORD, dying. Many others cannot recover. The wife of Sloan and her daughter-in-law are all that remains of the family and they are critically ill.
    "In Tempore"

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    Default Rock Island, Illinois Fire July 22, 1860

    FIRE IN ROCK ISLAND. -- Last Sunday morning about 3 o'clock, an occupied frame house on Water street, between Eagle and Washington, Rock Island, was discovered on fire. The flames soon spread to the adjoining buildings on the East and West. Those on the West were one story frames of little value. The first was occupied as a saloon and dwelling by James Keefe, who saved most of his furniture; no insurance. The building upon the East was a two story brick, having and extensive frame back building, which was mostly destroyed. These premises belonged to Mr. Philip Simmon, who kept a saloon and public boarding house. Mr. S. succeeded in saving the greater part of his furniture. He loses about $2,000, his policy of insurance for $1,500 having expired some two weeks since. The agent of the Aetna company, in which he had been insured, called on Mr. S. the day previous to the fire and requested him to renew his policy, offering to take his note for the assessment until August. Mr. John Mayer, in whose building the fire was discovered, was insured for $600 n the Illinois Mutual Co. which will nearly cover his loss.

    The Rock Island engines were on hand, and the firemen and citizens labored manfully to prevent the spread of the flames. At one time it was feared that Wellman's brick block on the corner would take fire. The Davenport Firemen responded promptly to the alarm, but were compelled to wait at the ferry landing a considerable time for the ferry boat to raise steam. Fire King Engine Co. No. 1 and Pioneer Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1 went over and rendered good service, returning home about 6 o'clock Sunday morning. During the fire a heavy rain came to which helped to extinguish the flames. The fire was undoubtedly the work of an incendiary.

    Davenport Daily Gazette, Davenport, IA 24 Jul 1860
    "In Tempore"

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