WASHINGTON COUNTY MISSOURI HISTORIC FIRES

 


POTOSI FIRE DEPARTMENT

Washington County Journal
31 March 1870  ~  Pg. 3  Col. 7

The fire in town on the 23rd inst. has led our citizens to take a step long needed, in the establishment of a local fire department.  A subscription was promptly made sufficient to purchase the outfit for a hook & ladder company, & the equipment will be received this week.  A through organization should now be effected among those citizens of the town who have interest at stake & the company should be officered by thoroughly efficient men.  The the erection of a hook & ladder house & the appointment of a fire engineer by our Town Trustees would complete the organization & render our town property far more secure.

 


 
Submitted By: Christine Lembeck

Wyoming Post, December 14, 1872
 The larger portion of the business part of Potosi, Mo., has been destroyed by fire.  The Journal office was burned.
 
 Indianapolis Evening Journal, December 7, 1872
 Thirteen stores, shops, etc., including the Journal printing office, in Potosi, Missouri, embracing the larger portion of the business part of the town, were destroyed by fire yesterday. Loss not stated, but said to be heavy, with very little insurance.


 

POTOSI, MISSOURI  5 JULY 1894
SWEPT BY FIRE!
AN OLD HISTORIC TOWN EXTERMINATED  -   POTOSI, MISSOURI IS NO MORE
SMOKING AND CHARRED RUINS MARK ITS SITE
THE FIRE CRACKER'S DESTRUCTIVE WORK

Special to the Republic [newspaper]

POTOSI, MO. - 5 July 1894 - Yesterday afternoon while a patriotic meeting was in progress at the old court house, Wm. S. Anthony, the gifted young lawyer holding his audience spellbound by a brilliant peroration - the ominous cry of FIRE was heard outside.

All rushed from the building to see a dense smoke rising from Connolly's Dry Goods Emporium.  Before buckets & ladders could be procured, the flames were already bursting through the roof.  One minute later a terrible explosion literally rent the building to pieces;   the flames had reached the coal oil tanks, kept in his wareroom.  Burning rafters & shingles were buried through the air, falling on the surrounding buildings.  One burning joist crashed through the roof of the Washington County Bank & soon that elegant new structure - John Murphy's large family grocer store & residence - George M. Howell's large tin shop - W. J. Slais's saddlery store - F.X. Teasdale's drugstore - Mrs Henrich's dwelling house, all single roof buildings were on fire.

All the time a moderately strong wind was blowing from the south, & soon it became evident to the terror stricken people that Potosi was doomed.

Seven frame stores & dwelling houses in a blaze, at one & the same time, the fire fiend working his way right & left & nothing to combat him but a few buckets.

Frantic men & women & children rushed hither & thither carrying their household goods to places of safety.  Wooden fences were torn down to check the spread of the flames but all to no purpose.  The wind bore the flying cinders in a fiery shower upon all the surrounding structures.  Gus Humm's shoe store & residence - W.T. Woolford's drug & jewelry store - Capt. F. Will's real estate office - the old Breton Hotel building - & the buildings on Missouri street - adjoining - were soon ablaze.  While on the other side of Connolly's store flames were spreading from the Bank to John Teasdale's store - Miss Mundy's millinery store - the INDEPENDENT office - the beautiful new Hotel Austin - the Post Office building - & Long's store.  A burning cinder was carried across the street into the loft window - which was always open of Casey's Bro's Livery Stables & this building with its inflammable contents having soon become a seething furnace, the fate of the Court House & of the entire upper portion of the town was evident.  Wreaths of smoke rising here & there from the high shingle roof of St. James Roman Catholic Church were quickly followed by sheets of flame.  Within half an hour after the first spark alighted on the roof, that beautiful church, the prettiest in South Missouri & the pride of Potosi was completely gutted.  Its fate was shared by the Methodist & Baptist churches - the Presbyterian church being only slightly damaged although the Masonic Hall near by, was entirely destroyed.  NOT ONE dwelling house in this part of Potosi, not even the lovely residence of Judge Louis F. Dinning, built on the outskirts of the town was saved.  A few of the houses on the lower part of High Street - were not reached by the conflagration.

Fortunately no loss of life or limb resulted although many severe burns are reported.  The total loss is variously estimated at from $300,000.00 to $500,000.00.  A little insurance was carried on several of the stores & dwellings - but in most instances none whatever was carried - their policies having expired & owing to the recent outrageous raise in the premiums of the insurance companies, they were not renewed.

It is rumored that the fire was caused by a small boy throwing a lighted fire cracker through the front window of the ware room of Mr. Connolly's Store; thus bringing about this terrible calamity.

Potosi is no more - & as a town it will not likely be rebuilt - yesterday's fire was a death-blow to the old historic town.  Potosi was almost exclusively a residen town with but afew noteworthy enterprises.  Many of our private citizens & business men are well nigh ruined by yesterday's fearful visitation.

From a reliable source we learn that in January of the present year  - a meeting of citizens was called to devise means for providing against a possible conflagration & to raise funds to procure a forcing fire pump, with hose by means of which the numerous cisterns of the town might be utilized - or to buy at least some fire ladders & buckets.  Many arguments were advanced - many propositions were made - It was suggested that information bearing upon the point might be requested from the Mayor & Fire Chiefs of other towns.  A few citizens pledged themselves to contribute various small sums.  It was proposed that voluntary contributions be solicited by a special committee, from all business men & private citizens of the town.  A mother was made to give a musical & dramatic entertainment the proceeds to be expended for this purpose.  However, after considerable talk more conservative counsel prevailed.  It was moved, seconded & carried by an overwhelming majority of those present, that - WHEREAS, Twenty-nine years ago 3 fire ladders & 12 buckets in some unaccountable manner disappeared - RESOLVED, that we the citizens of Potosi have done our duty, once & for all time, in the past & for the future put our unlimited trust in the loving care of Divine Providence.

THEREUPON, the meeting adjourned sinc die;  all feeling happy & like men who had done their duty.

In view of the above facts we may well ask ourselves - if after all the realization of our great National principal of self-government, of government by & for the people - it is destined to be an iridescent dream?  Do we really need some of that old time & old country paternalism, which gives to every little village of England, France & Germany - among other blessings, a night watchman & a well equipped & thoroughly organized fire brigade.

 

 

Three Fires Reported In County Past Week
Independent Journal - Pg. 1, Col. 2
26 May 1938


We learn of three fires in the county the past week.  Lightening struck the large stock barn on the Jess Bust farm near Tiff Sunday morning & it burned to the ground.  One mare, a lot of feed & some farm machinery, belonging to a Mr. Pierce, who has the farm rented, were burned.

Saturday night the home of Earl Isgriggs in Potosi was completely destroyed by fire.  Mr. Isgriggs also lost all his furniture & clothing.  He & his familly were away from home at the time & nothing was saved.

Tuesday the wash house at the Clarence Farrell home burned, together with an electric washing machine, clothes, oil stove, etc.
 

 
 

WASHINGTON COUNTY LIBRARY FIRE


Fire of unknown origin broke out Tuesday, March 30, around 6 p.m. at the Washington County Library in Potosi.  Some 20,000 books represented part of the loss incurred in the fire which had gained rapid headway before it was discovered.  The fire apparently broke out soon after the library staff left the building at 5:15 p.m.  The library has been in existence since June, 1964, and is located in the Crow Building at the corner of Missouri and Mine St.   It is believed that approximately 5000 books were checked out at the time of the fire and another 5000 were in the bookmobile unit.  Submitted By:  Bettye Warner - The article was published Wednesday, March 31, 1965, at Page 1. 
 


 

28 January 1967 - The old Cole place on Breton Creek was destroyed by fire.