Nebraska, IN Horton Manufacturing Co Fire, Jun 1917


Horton Manufacturing Company Loses $175,000 In Flames

Fire that started from some unknown cause near a painting machine, swept over the Horton Manufacturing company's plant in Nebraska this afternoon, destroying the paint shop and machine shop. The total damage is estimated at approximately $175,000. The plant was working night and day and was filled to capacity with materials, machinery and finished products.

Within a minute after Emil Richter, the paint room foreman, discovered the fire, flames were sweeping through the main buildings, the light frame construction proving ready food for the fire. A general alarm was sounded but a scarcity of water plugs to the north of the plant hampered the firemen's efforts to confine the flames to one building. They were, however, checked before they could sweep through an "L" and into the main mill shop, where most of the expensive machinery sits.

The intense heat to leeward of the flames made it impossible to fight the flames away from the warehouse. An east wind swept the flames towards the warehouse, in which new machines were stored and in which materials were kept in great quantities.

"The plant was filled with new machines, machinery and materials and we were running night and day trying to keep up with our orders,"John C. Peters said. "The loss will reach about $150,000, with one-fourth of it covered by insurance. The plant was recently appraised at $92,943 and the stock is worth at least $100,000. The total insurance is only $56,800. The insurance is divided like this -- $40,000 on the building and machinery, $9,000 on other machines, $4,500 on the metal plant, $1,000 on the office, $1,500 on the stock and $800 on the barn. The metal mill room is not damaged and the machinery is to a great extent saved, but the stock is a total loss."

Storeroom Stocked.

The storeroom was stocked with machines, every corner being filled. The wooden tubs burned like tinder, the flames licking up the fresh paint in an instant. The firemen made every possible effort to save this part of the plant, but when it was seen that this would be of no avail the attention was turned to the metal mill room, which was saved.

Planing Mill Collapses.

Shortly before 2:30 o'clock this afternoon the roof of the planing mill, on the third floor of which the paint department was located, fell. The walls caved in, loosing the guy wires attached to the tall flag pole, and the big steel shaft crashed to the earth, narrowly missing several bystanders. The fall of the planing mill saved the mill room, for it brought flames closer to the ground and gave the firemen a better opportunity to keep them down.

Richter Burned.

Emil Richter, mill foreman, was the only man injured in the fire. He was on the third floor when he discovered the flames and while other employes ran to call the fire department he emptied the contents of three fire extinguishers on the pain(t) machine which caused the fire. The flames had too good a start, and fed by the fresh paint they drove Richter back, with his left arm badly burned. He was given first aid attention at the plant.

Papers Are Saved.

All valuable papers at the mill were saved. Those in the offices in the shops were carried to places of safety first, and then those in the main office were carried out. The tools from the mill room, all dies and other valuables that could be moved were quickly carried and rolled to safety in the barns and yard.

Police Have Trouble.

The police had considerable difficulty in controlling the crowd. Curious men and women tried to force their way close to the blazing buildings, and it was all the police could do to crowd them back.

Fort Wayne News, Fort Wayne, IN 9 Jun 1917