Whole Block of Business Rooms on East Side of Main Street of Town Now Heap of Smoldering Ruins
Blaze originated in Rear of Dunfee Building at Midnight and flames, spreading rapidly were soon beyond control of fire fighters using old fashioned hand engine.
Incendiarism is said to be the cause of the most disastrous
fire in the history of Etna Green which took place shortly after
midnight on Wednesday morning, when the best and finest business
houses of Etna Green were totally destroyed by fire. The fire
was on the east side of Walnut street and extended from Broadway
south to the postoffice, a distance of about 140 feet The total
loss was aggregate $30,000 with only about $5,000 insurance.
The fire was discovered a few minutes after midnight by Thomas Jones, who was awakened early, preparing to go to Fort Wayne to purchase an automobile. At that time the blaze was in the rear of the Dunfee building and was comparatively small. Jones at once gave the alarm and messages were sent to Atwood, Warsaw, Bourbon and the surrounding territory.
The fire spread rapidly and by the time the hand engine was in action it was seen that the fire was beyond control. The volunteer firemen worked with all their strength, but to no avail and the fire soon enveloped the entire block of frame structures.
The first building on the south of Broadway was the two story frame structure owned by M. J. Hamlin and occupied by his dry goods and grocery store. The building was 44 feet in width and about 80 feet in length. Mr. Hamlin was unable to save any thing, with the exception of articles of little value, and the building and stock was a total loss. The loss on the building was $3,000 with $10,000 on the store. Above the building was the millinery store of Mrs. Howard Anglin, the contents of which were also totally destroyed. Mr. Hamlin carried $3,000 insurance on the building and contents, the insurance being with the L. F. Coleman agency, of Warsaw. Mrs. Anglin had no insurance.
Adjoining the Hamlin building on the south was the two-story frame building owned by Dr. J. W. Dunfee. On the first floor was Clyde Farber's barber shop, which was totally destroyed. His loss was $100, with $75 insurance. On the second floor was Dr. Dunfee's office, where the physician had a large supply of valuable surgical instruments. Not an article was saved in the entire building. Dr. Dunfee's loss will aggregate $4,000 and he had but $800 insurance, which was also with L. F. Coleman, of Warsaw.
Next to the south was the two-story frame building owned by Thomas M. Jones. Mr. Jones had a harness shop in the front of the downstairs room and in the rear he conducted the lighting plant of Etna Green, which was owned by him individually. Mr. Jones lived above the harness shop. Mr. Jones saved nothing in the building, excepting a feather tick and some bedding and he places his loss at $6,500, with no insurance.
The next building on the south was a two story frame building, about 35 by 70 and owned by C. A. Shaffer, clerk in the Morris book store of this city. On the first floor was a restaurant, owned by George E. Rockhill, who lived in the rear of his place of business. On the second floor was the opera house, which was also used as band room. The entire building was a total loss, all that was saved being several of the band instruments and a sack of floor. Mr. Rockhill's loss on the restaurant and household goods will amount to $4,000, with no insurance. Mr. Shaffer's loss on the building will amount to about $3,500, with $1,000 insurance, hled by L. F. Coleman, of Warsaw.
South of the Shaffer building was located the postoffice building, a two-story frame building owned by M. H. Brindley. The postoffice building caught fire, but was extinguished before the damage amounted to a large amount. The loss on the building will reach about $100.
Across the street from the Hamlin store, west, was the new bank of Etna Green, a fire-proof structure, and the only loss occasioned by Seth B. Iden, the owner, was the destruction of the large plate glass windows, which will make a loss of about $100.
South of the bank is located the T. A. Smailes hardware store. Mr. Smailes building did not catch fire, but the heat scorched the front and melted out the plate glass windows, causing a loss of about $100.
South of the Smailes store is the Oscar Johnson shoe store, which was damaged in the same manner as the Smailes store. Mr. Johnson's loss will also be in the neighborhood of $100.
Flying shingles, which were blown high in the air from the buildings were carried miles into the country and the home of Elba Cochran, located several hundred feet from the scene of the conflagration, caught fire from flying debris, but the blaze was extinguished before the damage amounted to much.
The heat was intense around the burning buildings and telephone poles across the street were burned and the wire twisted, knocking out service complete on a number of lines.
Peter Good was the only person injured and his hands and back were badly scorched by the heat, although he was not seriously injured.
The large fire cistern contained plenty of water, but the intense heat was so great the firemen could not get close to the buildings and at 4 o'clock in the morning efforts to stop the blaze were ended. The fire burned for several hours afterwards, however, although there was no further danger of setting other buildings afire. People from Atwood, Bourbon and Warsaw hurried to Etna Green and assisted in the struggle against the flames and a part of the Warsaw equipment was taken to Etna Green on the tender of an engine at 1 o'clock on Wednesday morning, Fire Chief C. B. Moon accompanying the equipment. Chief Moon returned early Wednesday morning.
The citizens of Etna Green feel certain that the fire was the work of an incendiary, as no other reason can be assigned for the blaze. It is said that back of Dunfee's building, where the fire started, pine boxes were noticed ablaze, although no boxes had been at that point the night before.
The insurance held by the losers amounted to but $5,375 and was divided as follows:
M. J. Hamlin $3,000, Dr. J. W. Dunfee $800, C. A Shaffer $1,000, G. E. Rockhill $500, and Clyde Farber $75.
The fire destroyed the best business houses in Etna Green and as the insurance amounted to little, in comparison with the losses, it is not thought that many of the buildings will be reconstructed in the near future. Business was practically suspended in Etna Green on Wednesday morning and the entire population could be found around the scene of the fire, which meant so much to the little town. The insurance rate was very high in that section of the town and that is given as the reason for the small amount of insurance carried.
C. A. Shaffer, of Warsaw, one of the heavy losers, as well as a large number of other Warsaw people, went to Etna Green on the 8:20 a.m. train Wednesday to view the scene of the conflagration.
As a result of the fire Etna Green will be without electric street and store lights for some time and kerosene lamps will be in great demand.
A fast freight on the Pennsylvania road, going through Warsaw a few minutes after word came from Etna Green that the town was burning, received order to stop here, and Fire Chief Moon, M. M. Syphers and R. W. Nelson placed 500 feet of hose, a number of buckets, ropes and other fire-fighting apparatus on the tender and the former two took it to the scene of the fire.
The Northern Indianian Thursday June 17, 1909 Front Page (sorry, no pictures)
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