Edwall Fires


                                                                    Submitted by Marge Womach




1907: "Sometime Sunday afternoon the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Geo C. Patch took fire from a stovepipe and burned to the ground. The building was a total loss as no insurance was carried. Neighbors first saw the fire, from a distance, as the flames began to shoot upward from the roof, and phoned to the family who were at home in the house and knew nothing of the conflagration until the phone rang and they received the startling news over the wire. Some of their household goods and other effects, in the lower part of the house, was saved.—Edwall Gazette." (Citizen: 4-19-1907)


1911:  “The Edwall Press Consumed by Fire.  when we opened Saturday morning’s Spokesman-Review and our eyes fell upon the first headline under ‘Central Washington’ we were struck dumb with surprise to read, ‘Edwall Press Is Victim of Flames—Frank Plessinger’s Newspaper Plant Is Totally Destroyed by Mysterious Fire. Spokane Man is Loser. Wind Carries Sparks away from Adjoining Buildings and Prevents Greater Loss. Edwall, WA., Dec 30.—Fire tonight completely destroyed the office and machinery of the Edwall Press, owned by Frank N. Plessinger, causing a loss to the editor of about $2,000, while J. L. Boals of Spokane, who owned the building, is loser about $1,800.  The cause of the fire is unknown.  While Editor Plessinger was standing on the depot platform flames were seen breaking from the rear of the building and before help arrived the structure was beyond saving. The wind carried flames away from adjoining buildings and saved further loss.’  Mr. Plessinger lost all of his personal effects, as also did his sister, Miss Julia Plessinger. He carried something like $700 insurance on the plant and a few hundred on their household goods, while Mr. Boals had a few hundred upon the building.  Frank and Julia, we feel the deepest regret that Misfortune has knocked at your door.  Mr. Plessenger is a good writer, good printer and a hard worker and we hope soon to see him recoup his losses.” (Citizen: 1-06-1911) 

1915: “Edwall Has a Disastrous Fire. 4 Business Houses Burn. Damage Estimated at $30,000.00.  A disastrous fire broke out at Edwall at 2:15 Tuesday morning in the rear of S. A. Bursch’s big livery barn building which was used as an auto-livery as well, and was communicated to the N J Mayer general merchandixe store, the J. Kaulbach drug store and the A. G. Springer hall across the street to the east.  All of these buildings were consumed. In the S. A. Bursch auto-livery and livery barn were three horses, a stallion, three or four dozen chickens and two automobiles all of which were totally destroyed. The N. J. Mayer stock, and the Kaulbach drug stock were destroyed along with the buildings, as also were the store houses back of the drug store, Mayer’s store room and wood shed and Dr Kaulbach’s garage.  No one knows how the fire started, but all of the buildings on the west side of the street in the burned district, seemed to be afire at the same time. The fire was first seen, and the alarm sounded by the night operator at the Great Northern depot. For a time it seemed as if the whole town would burn, and it seemed certain the large hardware store of the F. T. Larrabee Company, housed in the big wooden structure owned by Frank Hall, would go up in smoke. Bookes and valuable papers were hustled from the safe, to a safer place beyond the fire zone.  The building caught fire several times but each time the blaze was put out. The gasoline engine and pump, which are connected up with Mr. Larrabee’s artesian well in the northeast end of the big hardware store, was finally started, and with the steady stream of water thrown from this individual fire extinguishing apparatus, along with the herculean efforts of all the citizens who instantly banded themselves together as a fire department, it was saved.  By hard work the barn at the rear of the meat market, which was in danger owing to the fierce flames carried that way from the Springer hall, was saved.  Checking the flames here saved the balance of the business district from ruin.  The fire loss is estimated at $35,000.  S. A. Bursch carried $1200.00 insurance on his building.  N. J. Mayer’s stock of general merchandise and groceries, valued at $6,000 was covered by $2,500 insurance. Dr J. Kaulbach owned the building which housed the Mayer store.  Dr Kaulbach only escaped with his pants, shoes, and a coat and lost a $430.00 diamond scarf pin.  He was fully insured. It is understood that J. Kaulbach will rebuild again as soon as possible. S. A. Bursch, one of the heavy losers, has leased land in the Palouse country and was to more there as soon as he disposed of his barn.  Edna Bray was to have purchased the barn, and the papers were to have been signed Tuesday of this week.” (Citizen: 10-15-1915) 


1922: "Henry Guhlke’s barn burned Sept 14th. About 40 tons of hay, 400 bushels of seed wheat and several sets of harness were burned. Cause of the fire is unknown." (Edwall; Harrington Citizen: 9-22-1922) "Fire destroyed the Henry Kempken residence early Friday evening. The household goods were nearly all saved." (Edwall; Citizen: 9-29-1922) 


1924:  “Edwall Visited by a Big Fire.  A mysterious fire, broke out  about 12:30 a.m. last Saturday in the Seattle Grain Company’s warehouse, caused a loss of approximately $115,000, fairly well covered by insurance. When the flames were discovered they had gained such headway that they were beyond control, due to the lack of water service and they quickly spread to nearby buildings, fanned by a high wind, despite efforts of the entire population.  The warehouse, 200 feet by 40 feet, was valued at $15,000 and was well covered by insurance. The building contained 40,000 bushels of sacked wheat, valued at $35,000, insured for full value, and mostly owned by farmers.  The F. T. Larrabee hardware building, valued at $15,000 and the stock valued at $40,000, were also destroyed. The exact amount of insurance on this property could not be learned but it is said to be well covered.  The dwellings of J H Morgan and John H. Bodger and their contents were also consumed, the loss in each instance being about $5,000, covered by insurance.  Two cars of wheat, damaged by a fire several weeks ago, were on the Great Northern tracks near the warehouse and were destroyed, together with three outfit cars of a Great Northern extra gang.” (Citizen: 6-20-1924)

1935:  “Catholic Church Burns.  Fire, presumed to have escaped from a bonfire left by parishioners cleaning the grounds, swept through dry grass and burned the Sacred Heart Catholic Church near Edwall on Friday. The frame building was built 50 years ago and was insured. Although volunteers went into action with buckets, they were unable to cope with the flames and soon were compelled to give up the effort. The church was being prepared for the funeral of Mrs. Margaret McMahon, 80.  The Rev Father Cyril Feisst, who lives at Cheney and supplies the Reardan and Edwall churches, made arrangements to hold the funeral at Reardan Saturday, with burial in the Edwall Cemetery.” (Odessa Record: 8-20-1935) 



Edwall Fires of Edwall, Washington, submitted January 3, 2006 

to the WAGenWeb by Marge Womach

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