Fire Buffs promote the general welfare of the fire and rescue service and protect its heritage and history. Famous Fire Buffs through the years include New York Fire Surgeon Harry Archer, Boston Pops Conductor Arthur Fiedler, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and - legend has it - President George Washington.

Sunday, March 13, 2016


On Oct. 1, 1898, fire raged in Colorado Springs and The Kansas City Journal reported:






Colorado Springs, Col., Oct. 1. -- This city had a visitation of fire this afternoon which threatened for four hours to destroy the entire business district. The wind was blowing at the rate of forty-five miles an hour from the southwest when the fire started, at the Denver & Rio Grande freight depot, at the foot of Cucheras Street, at 2:10 p.m., and the flames spread with great rapidity.

A strip four blocks long from north to south, and two blocks wide from east to west, was burned over, and the flames would not have been checked there but for assistance from Denver and Pueblo.

The Antlers Hotel, one of the largest in the West, the lumber yards and two blocks of business houses were destroyed. In round numbers the loss is estimated at $1,000,000, insured for one-half that amount. The losses estimated are as follows:

Antlers Hotel, $350,000.
Newton Lumber Company, $60,000.
El Paso Lumber Company, $35,000.
Irvine & Sons, blacksmith, $2,000.
Denver & Rio Grando railroad, $30,000.
Gulf Depot, $5,000.
Home Hotel, $3,500.
General losses of business firms and individuals not enumerated, $465,000.

The fire started in a pile of rubbish underneath the platform of the Denver & Rio Grande freight depot. Within five minutes it had communicated to freight cars standing at the depot, and it spread so rapidly that it was impossible to move any of the cars. Half a car of powder consigned to G. S. Barnes & Son exploded.

The cans were thrown for hundreds of feet, and the wonder is that nobody was injured. Then came the terrible danger to the city. Great chunks of fire were scattered about, and in a few moments the Crissey & Fowler lumber yards, 500 feet away, were burning. The wind was sweeping a perfect hurricane. The flames rushed through the lumber yards and burned all the light frame buildings in the block. Then they leaped across the street and burned the El Paso Lumber Company and the paint establishment of Sperry & Tuckerman. A few minutes after the Newton lumber yards caught.

For a time after this, it looked as if the Antlers might be saved, but the heat was too great. There was not water enough to send a stream half way up the building. At 4 o'clock, it was burning on the south end and the famous hotel was doomed.

The colored employes of the hostelry showed great intrepidity in climbing out of the upper windows in the face of an infernal heat and pouring water upon the fire through a small hose. They left their posts only after the heat became positively unbearable.

Down below, the firemen were also directing streams upon the buildings, but the water pressure had become so reduced that the streams were of little effect. The contour of the buildings, the upper stories of which were of wood, served to make a succession of smoke-stacks along the sides, and it was but a few moments until the smoke and flames were leaping from nearly every window

The building stood for a long time against the tremendous heat. The flames rose higher and higher, and soon the wood works burned away from them. Here and there blue flames shot up where the copper cornices caught fire. It took about two hours for the hotel to burn, and it made a tremendous hot fire. The walls began to fall after the building had been burning perhaps an hour, and they went down with a tremendous roar.

The smoke-stacks remained for quite a long time, and some of them are standing yet.

The Antlers annex was quickly in flames, and went up rapidly.

Two or three explosions were heard while the Antlers was burning and these are supposed to have come from the boilers. All of the Antlers people, from the engineers to the bell boys, stayed at their posts until they could stay no longer.

At 6 o'clock all that was left of the once beautiful Antlers was a mass of blazing debris. Thousands gazed upon it with sorrow and regret, as it was universally conceded to be the chief ornament of the town.

The Antlers was a beautiful six story building owned by the Colorado Springs Hotel Company, in which General Palmer was heavily interested. The lessee proper was E. Burnett. The building was insured for $200,000, and the furniture, valued at $37,500, was insured for $31,500. The building and its contents are almost a total loss. The hotel will be rebuilt.
There were several guests in the hotel, including a number of invalids, but all were gotten out in safety and taken to comfortable quarters.

The Union Pacific and Denver & Gulf railroad passenger depot on Huerfano Street, was burned, but the other railroad passenger stations were unharmed.

 While the big fires were burning several small ones broke out through the city, destroying several residences, and threw people into consternation.

 The limits of the burned district are the Denver & Rio Grande railroad on the west, Cascade Avenue on the east, Pike's Peak Avenue on the north and Cucharas Street on the south.

Among the business houses burned out are the following:
McFarland & Hills, blacksmiths.
Irving & Sons, blacksmiths.
Silver Moon Restaurant.
Kelly Coal Company.
Felix Americano.
Bloom, tailor.
Dietz, blacksmith.
John Kline, painter.
Bartlett, blacksmith.
Creamer & Jordan, blacksmiths.
Maskowitz, clothing.
A. Shapiro, clothing.
J. M. Holliwen, shoemaker.
S. K. Kline, jewelry.
Marlow Bros., confectionery.
Campbell feed store.
Second-hand store.
Restaurant and grocery next to the Gulf depot.
Salvation Army hall.
Columbia Clothing Company.
Seldomridge warehouse.

Their losses range from $500 to $5,000 each. Ten partly loaded freight cars on the tracks are burned.

Several arrests have been made tonight of persons suspected of starting or attempting to start fresh fires, but there is no question that the first fire, at the Denver & Rio Grande freight house, was entirely accidental, possibly being caused by a spark from a locomotive.

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