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Because it happened in Los Angeles, the Griffith Park disaster may be the best-remembered United States fire of 1933, though a series of forest fires, particularly in Oregon, caused considerable damage that affected the country for years afterward.

In Germany, a fire of a different sort provided impetus for the Nazi party and paved the way for Adolf Hitler's rise from chancellor to dictator.

But we're doing last things first, and starting with the Griffith Park inferno:

Syracuse Journal, October 4
LOS ANGELES (INS) — While grim, tired searchers walked slowly with shovels through the blackened canyons of death where more than 50 men were believed to have perished in a terrible sea of smoke and flame in Griffith Park late yesterday, and stretcher bearers brought more bodies out of that tragic "no man's land," police today took into custody a man suspected of having possibly started the deadly holocaust.

The arrest was made on information of Jack Borchard, who reported to police he and several neighbors had extinguished small blazes started early this morning on the south side of the Griffith Park Hills, near many of Hollywood's fine homes.

Police said the suspect was arrested near the scene and they found in his pockets a rag apparently soaked with gasoline and a box of matches.

Meanwhile, in the county morgue, where 26 bodies of county welfare workmen had been brought, pathetic scenes occurred today as lines of weeping men and women and children, relatives of men who were missing, waited in dread to be allowed to view the blackened shapes which might be those of fathers or husbands or brothers.

Four more bodies had been brought out of the still smoldering wasteland this morning, which added to the 26 bodies already in the morgue, brought the known dead to 30, according to Deputy Coroner T. E. Russell, at the fire scene.

More than 125 were hurt, many seriously.

The men virtually all were impoverished workmen. Under the county welfare program, they had been given work at 40 cents an hour building roads and cutting trails in the 3,051-acre park.

When the fire broke out, 4,100 workmen were in the park. Crews hastily were recruited to battle the flames.

Several hundred men were fighting the flames in a narrow box canyon when the wind shifted suddenly. The men were trapped in a raging inferno.

Injured survivors of the mad fight for life said the trapped men had no chance to escape. Burned and bleeding, scores of men, blinded by fire and smoke, staggered to a promontory above the canyon and collapsed in the dust, waiting for help.

Authorities established a hospital at the municipal golf course in the park, which is surrounded on three sides by thickly settled residential sections, and physicians and nurses sped there to give first aid.

All rescue apparatus in Los Angeles was rushed to the scene.

The 1933 Griffith Park fire was the deadliest in Los Angeles history, though the official number of fatalities — 29 — is less than was estimated in the story above. That is not to say the official number is correct because there were several factors that made it impossible to identify the remains found or to account for persons reported missing.

It turned out several workers used work permits that belonged to other men. That meant some "victims" turned up alive a few days later.

However, according to the fine story on lafire.com, relatives and friends of men who never returned after the fire insist the actual number of men killed was closer to 50.

The man reported arrested in the first story, above, admitted having burned some things a day earlier, but his was not the fire that took such as terrible toll. It was never established who or how that fire was started, though, not surprisingly, there was widespread suspicion communists may have been responsible.

While we tend to regard the Cold War years as the period Americans most feared a Communist threat, the 1930s was the decade this threat was perhaps more sinister because so many United States residents, due to the Depression and disillusionment, found communism an intriguing idea.

Journalists and William Randolph Hearst, in particular, attacked communism at every opportunity, claiming the doctrine was being taught by professors at many American universities. Communists in Europe already had been blamed for the year's most politically significant fire (see below).

Whatever, the real problem at Griffith Park on that October day in 1933 was not the original fire, but the way it was fought by untrained workers who followed orders given them by foremen who were just as ignorant when it came to battling the threat that presented itself.

It was said later that back fires — those set to intentionally burn combustible material that could feed the original, advancing fire — actually killed and injured more people. The wind shift complicated matters.

Those who attempted to flee were divided into two groups — men who ran directly away from the advancing fire and men who ran parallel, with the fire to their left or right. It turned out the parallel path, which seemed riskier, was the better route because it was relatively flat. The workers who fled in this manner did so faster than those who scrambled up hills and canyon walls and were overtaken by the fire.

About seven weeks after the Griffith Park disaster, there was another fire in the Los Angeles area, this time in Tujunga, a small town just north of Burbank:

Syracuse Journal, November 23
LOS ANGELES (INS) — Hundreds of persons fled their homes in Tujunga today as the Los Angeles suburb — population 2,800 — caught fire.

Thundering from a hillside where it had raged since Tuesday night, a fire beat back 2,000 or more firefighters and continued its devastating work in the populated area.

Tujunga adjoins La Crescenta, Montrose and La Canada, which are a few miles north of Pasadena.

Firefighters and residents were imperiled as the holocaust, leaving a smoldering path of destruction in its wake, leaped out of Haines Canyon and started eating its way through the outskirts of Tujunga into the more thickly populated district of the town.

 

It's quite likely the right person was convicted for the crime that may have accelerated Adolf Hitler's plan to reshape Germany into his own twisted image.

There are some, however, who believe Hitler's Nazi party orchestrated the whole thing, using the fire for propaganda purposes.

The fire in question was set February 27 at the Reichstag building, so named because that is where Germany's parliament — or reichstag — conducted its business.

The following stories tells how the Hitler government reacted to the fire:

Binghamton Press, February 28
BERLIN (United Press) — The Hitler government today ordered the arrest of every Communist connected with the government for alleged complicity in a terrorist plot which began with the attempted destruction by fire last night of the Reichstag building.

A ban on the Communist and Social-Democratic press was decreed by Hermann Wilhelm Goering, minister without portfolio* in the Hitler government.

Herr Goering charged that the Reichstag fire was part of a plot for a Communist uprising which had as its goal destruction of all government buildings and the “wholesale looting of Berlin.”

Evidence uncovered indicated that the Reichstag fire, which left the main hall of the legislature building a mass of charred ruins, but which spared the library of the historic edifice, was deliberately set by a Dutch Communist named Mannus Van Der Luebbens, acting in concert with a number of other conspirators.

Police reported that after the fire was discovered, men were seen rushing through the building with lighted torches in their hands.

Van Der Luebbens said he had no confederates in his attempt to destroy the government buildings.

*Minister without portfolio: a minister of state not
appointed to any specific department.

Syracuse Journal, February 28
By EDWARD L. DEUSS
BERLIN (INS) — Convinced the incendiary fire which gutted the Reichstag building was part of a widespread Communist conspiracy to overthrow the government, Chancellor Adolf Hitler’s Nazi storm troopers and police today carried out the most sweeping roundup of radicals in the nation’s history.

“Communists plotted to overthrow the government,” declared Captain Hermann Wilhelm Goering, minister without portfolio, as he addressed the cabinet in an emergency session.

“The situation is precarious. It is a matter of life and death to the German nation. The government is determined to ruthlessly arrest all political personalities even remotely connected with those who plotted the revolution.”

After hearing Goering’s statement, the cabinet voted to submit to President von Hindenburg for his signature a drastic emergency decree entitled: “For the protection of the people against the Communist menace.”

The decree contains far-reaching restrictions of personal freedom, and if signed will sound the death knell of the Communist party in this country.

In the course of the roundup which had netted 410 prisoners by noon, police found documents alleged to reveal the Communists had laid careful plans for a reign of terror, including the poisoning of water and food supplies.

Five months later, Mannus Van Der Luebbens went on trial for setting the fire. Tried with him were four men similarly charged — Ernst Togler, Georgi Dimitrov, Blagoi Popov and Vasil Taney, all well-known Communists.

Not surprisingly, Van Der Luebbens was found guilty and in 1934 was beheaded, a popular form of execution in Nazi Germany.

The surprise, given the Nazi rabble-rousing after the fire, was the four other defendants were found not guilty.

 

It began innocently enough. Well, not quite so innocently. In what had been an unusually hot and dry summer in Oregon — as well as most of the country — certain restrictions had been put in place for lumber companies.

For example, because of the heat, companies were advised to stop work each day at noon. This was to minimize the possibility of inadvertently starting a forest fire, while keeping the lumber companies in business on a reduced scheduled.

One company in Gales Creek Canyon ignored the order. And after lunch on August 14, a large Douglas fir, that had been felled in the morning, was dragged away by steel cable. At some point, enough momentum was established that the fir popped off the ground and landed on a dead tree that had been downed by a strong wind perhaps years before.

The result was like rubbing two sticks together. Two very large sticks. As workers continued to haul in the fir, one of them noticed smoke rising from the dead tree. He notified the crew chief, but within minutes the fire was out of control and about to make history.

Buffalo Courier-Express, August 27
PORTLAND, Oregon, August 26 (AP) — In a red fury against which 3,000 fire fighters could not stand, Oregon’s most devastating forest fires today continued their sweep to the shore line of the Pacific.

Thousands of acres of the West’s most valuable timber were being consumed by the flame which made a furnace of the mountains, ridges and ravines of the northwestern tip of Oregon.

The fire center was about 45 miles due west of Portland in the vicinity of the Wilson and Trask rivers.

Fire wardens said the flames were burning on a 125-mile front. One end of the fire had shoved deep into the Flora Logging Company holdings in Yamhill County. Heretofore, except for a mill fire, the blaze had been concentrated in Washington and Tillamook Counties.

The gale which swept the fire country yesterday had abated a little today. The high winds at times carried fragments of flaming trees as large as a man’s body 300 to 400 feet ahead of the main fires.

Tillamook reported several farm homes were burned last night on Wilson River. Miles of telephone line were carried away by the flames, and today only one circuit was operating between Tillamook and Portland.

The Wilson River fire line had reached to within eight miles of the city of Tillamook.

 

Buffalo Courier-Express, August 29
PORTLAND, Oregon, August 28 (AP) — Mountainous billows of smoke hid lurking, treacherous flames today along a 40-mile front in northwestern Oregon as slumbering winds and moisture from the ocean permitted 4,000 fire fighters to renew their attack on the mot devastating conflagration that has ever swept over the forest lands of the state.

For fourteen days the flames had ridden high gales of wind to spread with explosive force over thousand of acres of fine timber. Fire wardens have estimated the loss between $15 and $18 million.

The general range of the fire extends about 40 miles from the Elsie district in Clatsop County southward to the vicinity of Blaine, in southern Tillamook County. The heart of the fire center lies about 45 miles directly west of Portland.

During the night gentle showers came from the north and fog was swept in from the Pacific. The wind died and firefighters, praying for cloudbursts, took new heart.

For two weeks hundreds of men, many of them youthful members of the civilian conservation corps, had exerted brawn and heart in the mighty battle to control the flames. But fire lines were crossed even before they were completed. The gales threw great flaming brands miles ahead of the main fires. These dropped in the tinder of fir needles and pitch and other trees exploded like gun powder to start new fires.

Only nature, herself, could cope with this greatest menace to nature, fire wardens said, when the efforts of 4,000 weary and grimy men seemed futile. Last night nature took a hand. Cool breezes overcame the blasting heat. Moisture-laden air replaced that consumed in the flaming furnace of forests. And small drops of rain sizzled in the red-hot ashes.

Those in command gave quick, brief orders as they pored over maps of the flaming country. Forest service wireless stations flashed signals that directed the movements of what amounts to more than two full war-time regiments of men. Army trucks rumbled over trails and fire fighters dug into new positions.

If the favorable weather continues, directing officers believe the menace will soon be brought within control. But should the east wind again whip into a gale before rain comes, new disaster probably would grip the forest country.

Already timber that would have served sawmills for generations has been destroyed. Fire fighters tonight anxiously watched the skies, charged with acrid, greenish smoke, for weather that will save other millions of feet of prime timber from the consuming flames.

This was the first in a series of catastrophic Oregon forest fires known as the Tillamook Burn. These fires, coincidentally, struck at six-year intervals. According to an article by Doug Decker, the fires combined to consume an area of 554 square miles. The first fire, by itself, destroyed nearly 12 billion board feet of prime timber. There was only one known human casualty — a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Binghamton Press, August 8
CRANDON, Wisconsin (AP) — A village was saved from destruction because nine men flatly refused to leave their forest fighting posts, but dozens of fires continued to menace property today in widely scattered sections of northern Wisconsin and the upper peninsula of Michigan.

When a fire swept through the village of Nelma on the Wisconsin-Michigan state line in Forest County yesterday, 100 persons were forced to evacuate, but nine men remained.

Robert Adams, Earl Buchanan, Henry Gibbe, Jacob, Paul and Strauter Spencer, and Henry Pueschner, with two Civilian Conservation corps recruits, disregarded orders to leave. They hauled a pump to the Brule River and for two hours played stream of water on houses and business structures as the flames swept up the edge of the village, then with a roar sped over lawns and across balsam thickets to the other side.

Sheds, rubbish and shrubbery went up in flames, but the larger building, drenched with water, were saved.

More than 2,000 men battled fires, whipped by strong winds in Iron, Vilas, Ashland, Forest and Lincoln Counties in Wisconsin, and Houghton, Gogebic, Keweenaw and Barage Counties in Michigan.

Vast tracks of valuable timber were destroyed, farm buildings, a logging camp and a saw mill were reduced to ashes. Hundreds of persons in villages and summer resorts fled before the flames’ advance. Many head of livestock perished.

 

Syracuse Journal, July 7
SARANAC LAKE (INS) — A six-mile front of roaring flame was spreading rapidly today in the biggest forest fire in memory, as all fire-fighting apparatus available fought to protect hundreds of acres of trees.

Hope for rain today spurred the 200 recruits from the Plattsburgh Barracks, who aided the rangers in fighting the blaze in Clinton County, near Chazy.

 

Syracuse Journal, August 12
ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland (INS) — Their homes in flames, hundreds of fisherfolk were seeking the safety of the Green Bay waters here today as raging forest fires in Newfoundland spread terror and evacuation along the coast.

Possibility that the fires were of criminal origin was being investigated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Late reports indicated that fires in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were under control, but a new blaze menaced Harbor Deep. Burlington and Middle Arm have been abandoned.

A score of buildings were burned to the ground in Burlington and throughout the fire-stricken territory fire fighters were adding prayers for rain to the valorous efforts.

Earlier in the year there were two fires of note in Maine. Police had little difficulty finding the two persons responsible, though, in one case, help had to be summoned to protect the culprit from angry townspeople.

The good news? No fatalities in either fire. The bad news? The two fires left a total of 1,800 people temporarily homeless.

Syracuse Journal, May 11
ELLSWORTH, Maine (INS) — Seized in a farmhouse 18 miles outside the city, Norman Moore, 25, amateur wrestler today, according to Sheriff Hal Hodgkins, confessed to starting the $2 million fire which on Monday destroyed 200 business buildings and dwellings and made 300 persons homeless.

When Moore, under guard, arrived at Hancock County jail, a crowd of 500 enraged citizens milled around the building making threats of “lynch him!” A squad of 100 National Guardsmen, with fixed bayonets, was thrown about the jail to keep the crowd in check.

Moore is a raw-boned, six-feet tall and weighs 200 pounds. He is known as a local wrestler and “strong man.”

Moore said he was working as a dishwasher in a local restaurant. He left the restaurant with several handsful of excelsior [fine wood shavings] which he piled near an unused storehouse in the heart of the city. He applied a match to the pile and calmly walked back to the restaurant, where he “waited to see the fire engines go by.”

As the flames spread from one business place to another and quickly leaped into the residential area, Moore, according to his statement to police, ran from the restaurant and joined firemen in aiding householders remove their furniture and in an attempt to control the fire.

Terror-stricken at what he had done, Moore says he made his way on foot about 18 miles to Lakewood and hid in the farmhouse where he was captured.

The sheriff said Moore denied he started the incendiary fire in the home of United States Senator Frederick Hale two weeks ago.

Moore said he saw a vacant factory fire a week ago and enjoying watching the fire engines.

Less than a week after Moore was arrested, there was another horrific fire in a Maine city. On May 15 an 11-year-old boy, who also enjoyed watching fire engines, started a fire in Auburn, about 100 miles east of Ellsworth. The fire started at 1 p.m. and quickly spread to nearby homes. Before it was put out, the Auburn fire destroyed 241 buildings, leaving 1,500 people homeless. The boy was ruled mentally deficient and institutionalized,

Another newsworthy fire began in the waning minutes of 1932 and made headlines on New Year's Day. That blaze destroyed the famous Clifton House Hotel at Niagara Falls.

Syracuse American, January 1
NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario (INS) — A mecca for honeymooners, notables and kings, the Clifton House passed into the limbo of memories today, a huge mass of smoldering ashes marking the historic spot where it had stood for the last 34 years.

Unoccupied in winter, there were no sightseers or newlyweds strolling its spacious halls, who might have smelled the smoke from its burning timbers in time to sound a timely warning. Only James Jones, the caretaker, was there with his wife and son, and while he discovered the fire too late, he averted an even greater disaster by heroically fighting his way through the flames and smoke to a huge tank of ammonia and opening the safety valves, thus preventing an explosion.

While firemen fought a losing fight with the flames which crawled hungrily over the low, rambling structure, hundreds of spectators had the thrill of a lifetime watching the spectacle,with the thundering waters of the Niagara forming a background as dramatic as the scene itself.

A stiff wind played the villain in the hostelry’s tragic finale, hurling the flames dangerously close to the nearby fashionable Fox Head Inn.

Two firemen were injured and seven overcome by smoke as they fought desperately to keep the fire under control. They were generally successful, though the adjoining Lafayette Hotel suffered damages estimated at $3,000.

Loss of the Clifton House was estimated at $1 million. Its loss as a landmark and a memory can never be estimated.

A month later another hotel in a resort area was destroyed:

Philadelphia Inquirer, February 7
ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey — Fire of unknown original last night destroyed the old Pall Mall Hotel, one of the resort’s rendezvous during the latter part of the 19th century. The three-story frame structure at South Carolina and Arctic avenues, opposite the Pennsylvania Railroad station, built during the Civil War, was the favorite gathering place for visitors in the “gay ‘90s.”

It was conducted for many years by Charles Noppor, and adjoined Schauffler’s beer garden, made famous by the beer bell, whose jubilant clanging announced the tapping of a new keg of brew.

Two days later a hotel fire in Omaha took the lives of seven firemen.

Syracuse Journal, February 9
OMAHA, Nebraska (INS) — Six Omaha fireman were believed to have been buried today under tons of debris when the walls of the blazing Millard Hotel collapsed.

The body of one fireman had been recovered and fire department officials gave up hope that any of the other five were alive. The firemen were searching for possible fire victims in the basement when the walls collapsed.

Two other firemen trapped by the falling walls were rescued, but they were so seriously injured they may die. Twenty additional firemen were less seriously injured fighting the blaze.

Fireman Walter Hoye and Captain George Cogan were rescued alive. It took five hours to release Captain Cogan from beneath huge girders as he lay writing in pain and exposed to 15-degree weather. A doctor was called to amputate his legs to effect his release, but the fireman refused to have them amputated.

“If it’s a question of my legs or the priest,” he said, “I’ll take the priest.”

A priest was called and stood by ready to administer to him if it appeared he could not be rescued before he died.

 

Syracuse Journal, February 8
TISDALE, Saskatchewan (INS) — Five persons were killed and five others were seriously burned in a fire which early today destroyed the Imperial Hotel here. Volunteer firemen fought stubbornly for hours in 35-below zero temperature in an effort to halt the flames, but the building as a total loss.

Syracuse Journal, December 4
MASSENA — Thirty guests and 12 employees of White’s Hotel at Main and Andrews Streets were forced to flee down fire ladders in their night clothing when fire leveled the entire business block including the hotel and five stores at 3 o’clock this morning.

Syracuse American, December 17
MORGANFIELD, Kentucky (INS) — Two persons perished and six were painfully burned when fire destroyed the Capitol Hotel here early today.

Syracuse Journal, November 24
NICE, France (INS) — Frank J. Gould’s magnificent casino, the Palais de la Mediterranee, was destroyed by fire today.

The casino, long one of the most popular gambling houses on the Riviera, was built at a cost of $5 million. It was the most ambitious attempt ever made by an American to capture the fancy of visitors to the Riviera. However, it was never a financial success and was well known as Gould’s “ivory elephant.”

The fire broke out shortly after noon today and gained rapid headway. Investigation indicated the fire started in the theater of the casinos and was thought due to defective wiring.

The Palais de la Mediterranee was rivaled in splendor only by the historic casino at Monte Casino. It was due to open for the winter season tomorrow. Gould, who failed in his efforts to sell the Palais to the French government, had made arrangement for one more attempt to make the casino a paying proposition.


 

Syracuse Journal, January 13
BALTIMORE (INS) — While the ruins of the Fifth Regiment National Guard armory still smoldered, a four-way investigation of the million dollar blaze was begun here today. The fire which destroyed the building and its contents is the second in five months.

The building was a showplace of the city, having been the scene of the historic first nomination of Woodrow Wilson.

Today’s fire was discovered about 2 a.m. The entire interior of the building was then in flames.

Because of stored ammunition, police and firemen immediately vacated about 40 nearby residences and succeeded in removing a portion of the explosives from the store room.

Colonel Washington Bowie Jr., commander of the Fifth Maryland regiment, said the damage might mount to $1.5 million.

Syracuse Journal, February 3
Eight women died in a fire at the Ridgecliff Sanatorium in Wickliffe, Ohio; a ninth woman is missing. Fifteen inmates and two nurses escaped the fire that destroyed one of three sanatorium buildings.

Meanwhile, 1,800 patients and the nursing staff had a close call when fire swept the top floor of the nurses’ home adjoining the main building of the state hospital in Danvers, Massachusetts. Firemen quickly put out the fire and saved the building.

Syracuse Journal, February 6
NEW YORK (INS) — Fire sweeping through the amusement center of Coney Island today was brought under control after causing damage estimated at more than $250,000.

Five alarms were turned in as firemen, hampered by a stiff wind and bitter cold, battled the blaze with two score pieces of apparatus. The wind, however, drove the flames away from flimsy frame structures on one side of the Bowery, fire officials said, keeping loss from mounting higher.

A square block in the amusement sector, housing several ride concessions and numerous two and three-story buildings was razed.

The blaze started near the section leveled by fire last summer with approximately the same loss.

Syracuse Journal, May 15
Swept by a stiff wind, fire of unknown origin which destroyed two homes, the general store and a large assembly hall, imperiled the entire town of Spafford on the Skaneateles-Cortland highway shortly after 3 a.m. today.

Damage is estimated at more than $15,000, and was kept at that minimum by united efforts of village residents who formed bucket brigades, working side by side with firemen from Skaneateles and Homer.

Destroyed by the flames were the homes of Alton Grinnell and Charles Power; the general store operated by Grinnell, and the Order of the Maccabees Hall. The home of Mrs Matilda Fisher was damaged by fire but was saved by firemen.

Both the Powers and Grinnell families were away at the time the fire started.

Buffalo Courier-Express, March 2
FREDONIA, New York — The most disastrous fire in the last 30 years of the town’s history tonight swept through eight two-story wooden buildings in the business center and did damage amounting to at least $150,000. Most damages as done to Sogh’s Hardware Company. Ammunition in the store, which exploded from the intense heat, added difficulty for the firemen, but no one was injured.

Syracuse Journal, January 10
CRAWFORDSVILLE, Indiana (INS) — The entire business district of Crawfordsville was threatened by fire which destroy several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of property on the courthouse square today. Half a dozen buildings were gutted. Fire departments from Danville, Illinois, and from Lafayette and Greencastle were aiding local firemen.

Syracuse Journal, January 14
FREEPORT, Long Island (INS) — Fire which started with two detonating explosions that rocked the downtown section swept a whole business block of this place today before being brought under control by the combined fire departments of the neighboring towns

The damage was estimated at $200,000, including about $2,000 left overnight in the cash registers of various stores. The origin of the blaze had not been determined.

Fire fighting apparatus from Mineola, Rockville Center, Hempstead and Freeport battled the conflagration. In all, about 400 firemen were called out.

The premises destroyed included an undertaking establishment, a garage, a lighting company’s suite of offices, a food market, a dry goods store and a shoe store.

Syracuse Journal, July 18
CASABLANCA, Morocco (INS) — Forty bodies had been recovered this afternoon and the death toll may pass 50 in a fire which swept over 1,000 acres of farm territory after the explosion of a tractor. The city was shaken by a slight earthquake this morning while firemen were battling the blaze.

Syracuse Journal, May 8
OAKLAND, California (INDS) — Service for the Key Route system’s 15,000 daily commuters between San Francisco and the East Bay was to be resumed tomorrow following a mysterious $3 million fire that left the Oakland terminal of the line a mass of tangled ruins.

The $1 million ferry boat, Peralta, and 30 interurban cars that were stationed at the pier were burned.

Fire started on the five-mile long interurban ferry terminal, three miles of which is open trestle extending out into San Francisco Bay.

Portsmouth (NH) Herald, August 3
Dover city hall was destroyed by fire early today with a loss estimated at $100,000. The fire broke out shortly after 3 a.m. and at daybreak a few crumbling wall were all that remained of the building.

Unofficially it was believed the fire was started by spontaneous combustion. Most of the valuable records and other contents of the hall were lost.

The 41-year-old building housed all the city offices, and an auditorium with a seating capacity of 1200. An 80-foot tower topped by a large clock formed one of the corners of the building. A part of the building served as police headquarters and the city jail and at the start of the blaze 16 prisoners were released. Twelve were vagrants and four were confined for minor offenses.

Syracuse Journal, May 2
ROCKWOOD, Maine (INS) — Two women and two children were burned to death in their home here today as a result of an attempt to start a fire with gasoline.

The victims were Mrs. Selina Burke, 84, bedridden; Mrs. Fred Burke, 31, and the latter’s two children, Stephen, 5, and Walter, 3 months.

Another child, Fred Jr., 2, escaped when he was tossed from a window, with his hair and clothing aflame, but an uncle, Joseph Burke, who had poured the gasoline on a fire in the kitchen stove.

Burke jumped out the window after the child and smothered the flames enveloping the youngster.

Although covered with the flaming liquid, when the gasoline can exploded, the mother tried to run upstairs to rescue the other two children.

 

 
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