Sunday, June 16, 2013

Huron Suffers Severe Loss From Big Fire

From the Sandusky Evening Star, Saturday, April 18, 1903

The Losses:

Hermes & Scott, fish warehouse, $5,000; no insurance

W.C. Heyman, fish warehouse and contents, $6,000; no insurance

W.C. Heyman, ice house, $500; no insurance

C.A. Weichel, stock of ice, $500; no insurance

V. Fries estate, barn and lumber, $1,000; fully insured


            For a time, Friday afternoon, the village of Huron was threatened with a most disastrous fire, which seemed likely to sweep the river front and spread to business blocks.  The dying down of the wind, however, prevented such a disaster, and the blaze was practically confined to four buildings, the lumber yards being saved.  The total loss is estimated at about $12,000 or $13,000, with but little insurance being given above.

            The fire broke out in the fish and twine warehouse of Hermes and Scott, on the river front, near the Fries lumber yards, and spread rapidly.  A half dozen people saw the blaze break out about 4:30 and turned in the alarm.  How the fire started no one knows.  A puff of black smoke suddenly burst out of a window on the first floor, and in another moment the building was a mass of flames.  No one had been near the building, and no fire was near the place, so far as is known.  The day before, a large quantity of nets and twine had been freshly tarred and stored in the building, and this burned like tinder.

            Huron has no fire department to speak of.  There is one little hand engine and a supply of hose, and a volunteer company, of which Henry Shaffer is chief.  The firemen turned out in good order, and soon had the little engine manned, but the sickly stream of water thrown was of no avail.  The flames rapidly spread to the large fish warehouse of W.C. Heyman, and also to Heyman’s ice house.  When it was seen that the fire was likely to spread to the lumber yards, an urgent appeal for help was sent to Sandusky.  It required time to make up a special train and get the big steamer loaded on, but a quick run was made and by 5:45, the Sandusky firemen were on hand and ready for business.  By that time, however, the fire was well under control, and there was nothing to do but turn a stream onto the ruins and keep the fire in check as a precaution against a possible high wind.

            Huron will feel the loss by fire severely.  In both fish houses, there were quantities of twine which were destroyed.  The ice, owned by C.A. Weichel, was considerably damaged and may be worthless.  It is not likely that the warehouses will be rebuilt, and this makes the loss the more severe for Huron people.  They consider themselves fortunate; however, in that the fire came at a time when there was little wind, for had the strong north wind of the last few days been blowing, nothing would have saved the lumber yards and many buildings in the vicinity.

            It was the hard work of the Huron firemen and citizens that saved much loss in the lumber yard.  Before the steamer arrived from Sandusky, the blaze had spread to a barn adjoining the lumber piles.  On the second floor of this barn was stored a quantity of fine lumber.  As the lower part of the barn was burned away, the floor fell.  Then men went to work tearing down parts of the burning building and removing the lumber.  One pile of lumber was also torn down, and this prevented a further spread of fire.  At one time, the large lumber ware house was on fire, so great was the heat, but this blaze was extinguished.  The loss to the Fries estate will not exceed a thousand dollars.

            Two vessels, the tug Industry and the barge Columbia were lying in the river adjoining the fish houses, but they were not in much danger at any time.

            The fire attracted a great crowd of people, and cars running to Huron from both east and west carried many people.  When the Sandusky steamer was started, there was a novel sight for the Huron folks.  Their chief regrets that the firemen did not reach them earlier.