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BRUNSVILLE - photo after the fire that destroyed the north side of main street in 1931

LeMars Globe-Post, Thursday, July 30, 1931

Blaze of Unknown Origin Aided By Extreme Dryness

Fire of undetermined origin, starting in the Brunsville branch of the Koenig Hardware Co., destroyed every building except one of an entire block in the Brunsville business district early Tuesday morning.  The fire was discovered shortly after midnight, but it was soon apparent that there would be no chance to save any of the buildings in a row.

Brunsville has three wells as protection against fires.  These three were almost dry, however, and furnished little water.  The village also had two chemical tanks on wheels.  One of these was used up, but was of little use.  The other was kept in reserve to put out fires that might start in the row of buildings across the street.

The LeMars Fire Department responded to an urgent call and aided the citizens of Brunsville, with chemicals, to prevent the spread of the flames.  The post office building caught fire several times, but was saved with chemicals.

The powerful pump on the LeMars truck would have been useful, had it been possible to get water, but available water supplies were pitifully small.

The following places of business fell victims to the flames:  First State Bank; Dickman’s grocery (operated by Catherine Harms);  Waterbury barber shop; Wilkens butcher shop and grocery; Koenig Hardware; Brunsville Creamery; Joe Osborne pool hall, dance hall and restaurant.

Only one building remained, the fireproof building which formerly housed the now defunct Farmer’s Bank of Brunsville.  This building was not harmed in the least.  By the irony of fate, this banking house, which would not have brought $250 before the fire, suddenly became five or six times as valuable.  In fact, by three o’clock some of the books of the destroyed State Bank had been moved into the building, which is completely equipped with regular banking furnishings.

Some idea of the intense heat could be gained by looking at the steel outer door to the bank vault, which passed through the fire.  The door was so badly warped and twisted that it was difficult to swing it open on its hinges.  The interior of the vault, although pretty warm, showed no sign of damage and all papers were fully protected.

The maganeset steel globular safe in which cash was kept, also passed through the fire without damage to its contents, although the safe was damaged.

The fire made a clean sweep as it ate its way from building to building.  It broke through concrete block and tile walls, and did not falter until it had consumed everything in its way.  The heat was so intense that the mortar between bricks and tiles was reduced to gritty powder.

Mayor Gerritt Null estimated that the damage to buildings and stocks amounted to about $50,000. A large part of this was without insurance, due to high rates.  Mr. Null said that there was talk about replacing some of the destroyed buildings with modern new structures.


Brunsville, Ia.—(Special)—This Plymouth county town, swept by fire which destroyed six buildings, Tuesday morning, with a loss approximately $50,000 is already planning to rebuild.  The buildings proposed will be fireproof and modern, it is said.  Work of clearing away the debris has commenced and it is expected work on new buildings will be under way early in August. 
(Photos by Dickensheets – Cuts by Sioux City Journal)