Douglas, AK Fire, Mar 1911

Douglas ALAS  1911-03-09.jpg


A miracle saved the town of Douglas from total destruction by fire late yesterday afternoon, and it took the combined efforts of the Douglas Treadwell and Juneau fire departments to confine it to the area destroyed, and this was only accomplished by the corrugated iron building occupied by the Reine saloon standing in the path of the flames as they worked up Front street toward the Opera house causing a temporary check. Across the street the arrival of the Juneau department with two lines of hose allowed the combined departments to use the wall of the Hunter hotel building as a checking point, confining the fire in that direction. To the southward there were empty lots checking the fire.

The fire started in the room upstairs occupied by the cook at the Douglas grill, who evidently left the stove with the dampers on. The discovery of the fire was promptly responded to by the Douglas department but some trouble was encounteed[sic] from frozen fire plugs, and the short loss of time found the grill building a mass of flames. Fanned by the terrific gale the fire quickly spread to the Douglas hotel, jumping across the street to the Island hotel and Lyric theater buildings. Realizing the serious things neighboring storekeepers immediately started moving their goods, and the Treadwell fire department was appealed to, making a remarkable fast run to the scene, and bringing nearly a hundred splendid firefighters. In the meantime the telephone and notified Juneau of the situation, and Chief Hurlbutt, of the Juneau department ordered out two companies, who were quickly loaded on the ferry with six hundred feet of hose, arriving at the scene inside of twenty minutes.

The Juneau companies lost some time by finding the first three fire hydrants frozen, but made two connections. One near the Jensen store, extending one ilne[sic] of hose to the rear of Stubbins' store, to protect the Hunter hotel, and the other to the salt water main near the Greek church. Both connections gave a splendid head of water, particularly the salt water main, which was pronounced the best pressure the Juneau bols[sic] have ever encountered. By this time it was generally conceded that the town was doomed, but the fire departments undaunted made a combined effort checking the spread of the fire.

The Douglas department, assisted by Treadwell, had their line of hose cutting off the spread along Front street at the Roene and Hunter buildings, one line, being on the beach in the extreme rear. Finally the combined flood of water was effective, and the town was saved.

Those who saw the fire first say it suddenly burst into flame from the grill, appearing to set fire to the Island hotel and Lyric theatre buildings simultaneously, jumping the street so quickly that the barbers in the Day buildings were barely able to escape without saving anything. The barber shop was directly across from the grill.

Every storeroom in the two blocks was emptied of stock, and in the confusion heavy damage resulted from breakage and thief. This was true of both drug stores, Hunter hotel and others.

The Board of Trade and Opera House saloons served free liquors to the firemen during the fire, and at both the Jap restaurants free coffee was dispensed. Every member of the city council was personally at work fighting fire or doing watchman duty.

The Juneau fire department sent forty men to the fire, all being experienced and energetic firemen, and today Douglas expresses the deepest appreciation of their work.

The steamer Georgia took fully a hundred people at 7 p. m., the ferry for some unaccountable reason going over at 6 o'clock and remaining tied up at the Douglas wharf. Returning the Georgia returned all the firemen free of charge.

When the flames were seen in Juneau orders were immediately issued to the electric light station to cut out all the Douglas lights, which allowed the firemen to work around the network of fallen wires without fear of injury.

Daily Alaska Dispatch, Juneau, AK 10 Mar 1911



Linemen Pullen had a crew of men working all night at Douglas cutting out dead wires and splicing live ones so that lights could be turned on. The work was disagreeable owing to the cold and darkness, but the Juneau crew stayed with it until the work was done, receicing[sic] much praise.

Daily Alaska Dispatch, Juneau, AK 10 Mar 1911