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Fire in Maquoketa 1917


Posted By: Sharon Elijah (email)
Date: 3/23/2020 at 05:53:14

29 December 1917 - The Clinton Advertiser page 1


(Special to the ADVERTISER)
Maquoketa, Iowa, December 29--Fire this morning partially destroyed the three-story block owned by Mrs. Boyd Marenos on Main street, with a loss estimated at $60,000.

The blaze was discovered at 2:40 o'clock, and at 10:30 was still burning, although practically under control. At that hour it was hoped that no additional property would be damaged.

The firemen worked heroically to save the building and adjoining blocks. It was the hardest fire to fight in Maquoketa's history, with the mercury down to nearly fifteen below zero.

The origin of the fire was not known this morning.

The ringing of the bells and shrieking of the big fire whistle at 2:40 o'clock apprised the people of the city that fire had broken out. The blaze was discovered by Chris Barunes, who occupied a front room on the second floor. He was awakened from his sleep by the flames and smoke, and running out, gave the alarm. In a short time there was a big gathering of people at the scene of the fire, and all who could do so turned in to aid the firemen in saving the building, the occupants in hauling out their effects.

The building stood between the Payne restaurant and the American Savings bank. It is a complete ruin today.

Barunes' billiard and pool rooms occupied part of the building. Mrs. Fred Altin occupied part of one floor next to the bank, and Levi Strong, an old soldier, had rooms in north part of the structure. On the first floor was Glen Mann's clothing and gents' furnishing store, adjoining the bank. Part of the contents were carried across street to the Ed Harris store before the fire got to them. The next room was the billiard parlor, and one room was unoccupied.

Alden's barber shop adjoining, and Dr. Riggs' suite of rooms over it, were badly damaged by water, although the fire was kept out of these rooms.

The firemen faced a terrific task in combatting the flames in the below zero weather. They were soaked to the skin, and their clothing froze stiff upon them. Still they labored for hours until the big fire was gotten under control. There were many warm words of praise for the firemen on the tongues of Maquoketa people today. The firemen have always proved themselves equal to every emergency, and it is proposed by the people to give them a rousing New Year's "send off" in appreciation of their good services.

Glen Mann is moving his store into the Shaw building on Main street today, and will carry on his business without interruption. Dr. RIggs is moving into the Wilhelm block.

Mr. Barunes, who discovered the fire and ran out to give the alarm forgot in his excitement about $140 in cash which he had in his rooms, and which was lost. He merely slipped on his overcoat when he was awakened by the fire, and left the building to give the alarm, leaving his other clothing in the room. Mr. Strong, the old soldier, was carried out of the burning building in his night clothes.

The fire was one of the most serious Maquoketa has experienced in years. It is not believed it was of incendiary origin.

Fire Chief Harry Fisher said later today that the blaze apparently had originated in the Barunes billiard rooms from unknown cause. Mr. Barunes had seven billiard and pool tables in his establishment, which were destroyed. He had $2,000 insurance on them.

The victims of the fire were not prepared today to state their losses and insurance.

31 December 1917 - The Clinton Advertiser page 5

Maquoketa, Ia. Dec. 31--Saturday's fire has brought out the following history of the block destroyed: This block was built in 1855, the room where the American Savings bank is was then occupied by a Mr. Allen who carried on the clothing business. The next one north, Mr. Spaulding ran a drug store, the next a Mr. Baldwin carried on the hardware business, using the third floor for a tin ship, and he lived on the second floor, while the next room was built by Mr. John E. Goodenow, and another clothing store was in it. These store-rooms all being built in 1855 it must have been quite a "booster" year for the "Timber City," as Maquoketa was called in those days, and we presume that much of the lumber was chopped, sawed and worked, in close proximity to Maquoketa--the difference in the cost of the same kind of timber used at that time would make our "daddios" of those days stick their eyes with surprise and astonishment.


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