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Burning of the Deadwood City., Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 14, 28 October 1879
Burning of the Deadwood City.
The greater part of Deadwood, the chief town of the Black Hills mining district, U. S., was swept away on Sept 2d by a conflagration, destroying property worth several million dollars, and’leavmg several thousand people without shelter. The latitude is about 42deg.; the altitude about 3,000 ft.; and the nights at this season of the year are often severely cold ; but timber for building houses and fuel can be obtained without difficulty, and the supply of provisions is abundant. Deadwood, like the mining towns of California, in early years, was built, of wood, and when a lire got a good start there was great difficulty in checking it. There have been probably a score of fires in California as destructive as that of Deadwood, but most of them occurred more than 20 years ago, a id those who witnessed them are rapidly decreasing in numbers.
A telegram descriptive of the disaster says : —A fire broke out in the Star Bakery, in Sherman street at 2.20 this morning, and, following that thoroughfare, swept everything before it on Lee, Main Gold, Wall, Patton, and William streets, and several residences on Central Avenue. Fanned by a light breeze, and having nothing to contend with except a very inefficient (ire department, everything was at the mercy of the flames. Less than half a score of pronounced fireproof warehouses withstood the severe tost. The buildings being mostly of wood and poorly constructed, they burned like so much chaff. The Are spread with such wonderful rapidity that any attempt at saving .anything would have been useless. All along its course terrific explosions of gunpowder, petroleum, liquor, &c, were of frequent occurrence, and buildings were blown to atoms. The hook and ladder apparatus and hose carriage were the first tilings to burn, leaving nothing but a few feet of worthless hose with which to battle against the devouring elements. The new water works were tried for the first time yesterday, and this morning were put to their full capacity, with little success in subduing the flames, on account of the scarcity of water. The hill sides were almost a solid sheet of flame, and water from the Builder ditch could not he had, otherwise considerable property would probably have been saved, as the ditch ran almost directly over the worst spot. The wildest excitement prevailed on account of the fearful force of the flames, and the people thought of but little besides saving their own lives, hundreds escaping with only their night clothes. Every team within miles of the city was called into service to help save what could be got out. There are probably 2000 persons homeless, and many are destitute. About 125 buildings, besides 50 or 60 dwelling houses, were do stroyed ; and while it is utterly impossible to get any definite figures regarding the loss, well-posted business men place it at from 1,500,000d01s to 2,000,000d015. The fire is still burning, but all its material is exhausted and there is no danger of its spreading, unless there should be unfavorable change in the wind. Several of the firms whose fire-proofs were saved have posted notices that they will open up for business in them on Saturday. Lumber is being hauled rapidly, and building will commence as soon as tbo debris can be cleared away, in a far more substantial way than before. Most of the merchants who have lost their wooden stores will erect brick ones in their stead. Labor is in great demand, and everything presents a lively appearance. A meeting was held by prominent citizens this afternoon, prompted by numerous thieving operations since the tiro broke out and the many cases of lot jumping, at which Judge Moody presided. It was decided to call upon Colonel Sturgis, commanding at Fort Meade, for a company of troops to act as guard over the property of the unfortunate sufferers by the fire, whichrequest was promptly complied with, and a company of cavalry was at once sent here, together with len waggons and two ambulances to transport destitute citizens to Fort Meade, where they will be furnished with camps and rations, which kind offer was made by Colonel Sturgis. All the saloons are closed by order of the sheriff and the city presents an unusually quiet appearance. A citizens’ Committee of Safety, numbering seven, were also appointed at to-day’s meeting, who will assist the sheriff in preserving the peace. Evildoers, if caught, will be speedily dealt with. A proposition to organise a Vigilance Committee 100 strong was voted down emphatically. The Fost-oftice which was destroyed, lost fiOOOd d in postage stamps and stamped envelopes, but no mail was destroyed and coaches are runini' regularly with daily 7 mails, g Numerous kind offers of assistance have been made by Eastern merchants, but will hardly be accepted, as the merchants bear their losses with the best possible grace, and are not inclined to place themselves under any obligations, at the same time appreciating the willing offers made by Eastern houses in all branches of trade. The surviving merchants have not taken advantage of the necessity of the hour by advancing prices on staple groceries, as was generally expected, and prices remain the same as usual.
The insurance companies who hold a majority of the risks on the destroyed property are the Firemen’s Fund, of San Fsancisco, the St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company, and the London and Liverpool and Globe Insurance Company. Another telegram sent the following day says.:—The city has presented an unusually* attractive appearance to-day, the flattjfes and smoke having abated enough fd allow the mass of ruins to be cleared away and the erection of tents and small wooden shanties, of which there have been from seventy-five to a hundred put up. Almost every class of business represented on Main and Sherman streets are all having an immense rush of custom. Prices have not advanced, except in a very few instances, where the demand for some
article was greater than the supply. The daily >apers are issuing smalt sheets, being struck off at Lead City and Centr. !. They contain little else than fire news. Lumber is being hauled in by every avai'able team in this vicinity, and is bringing 4(Mo!s. per thousand. The mills are running night and day, but nut enough can ho brought in to supply the enormous demand. Some had shinties erected within five hours from the on,break of the fire. All day telegrams have been pouring in,, offering stocks of goods, money, clothing food Ac. but as yet nothing but merchandise has been accepted. No Relief Committee has been organised as yet, and there will pro. bably be none. The people who are bankrupt and homeless do not want aid from the outside world. Merchants and others are very generous, and are able and willing to stand their share of the burden. At a meeting of the members of the Bar this afternoon, resolutions were passed asking Judge Moody to remain here instead of attending the October term of the Supreme Court at Yankton, so that, in case his services should be needed, they would be at hand. The Supreme Court will probably adjourn a few weeks, until the city is partially rebuilt and quiet restored. Competent judges place the total - loss at fully 3,000,000 although some time must elapse before the exact figures can be obtained. The bank vaults were opened to-day and were found intact. Chronometers on the time locks were still running. Botli banks will open on Mon-lav. All that was saved of the county records, b ioks, Ac, wius one sot of books from the Treasurer’s office. The assessment rolls were all destroyed, and at a meeting of the County Commissioners this afternoon, a new assessment was ordered to be taken as soon as possible. Strong guards are on duty at the bank vaults, the outer doors of which were left unlocked, and no one was allowed to pass without being recognised. Two men were killed and two more wounded at the Homestake mine, Lead City.
Burning of the Deadwood City., Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 14, 28 October 1879
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