Lansing, MI State Office Building Fire, Feb 1951

Michigan Fire Damage Set At $4 Million

LANSING, Mich., Feb. 9. (AP) - Michigan state government came to a virtual standstill Friday as a $4,000,000 fire in the upper floors of the state office building burned itself out.

Fourteen major departments in the buiding were unable to function as the fire chewed the eight-story structure.

Departments in the state capitol and outlying buildings were nearly paralyzed by the lack of telephone service. The central switchboards of the state system were in the middle of the damaged section.

Two investigations were underway.

Gov. G. Menen Williams ordered the state police, the state building division and other agencies to seek the cause of the blaze.

The state House of Representatives appointed a five - member investigating committee which set its first hearing for Tuesday.

Firemen from five cities were still pouring six thousand gallons of water a minute into the big granite building, 27 hours after the blaze broke out on the seventh floor.

Fourteen men including Lansing Fire Chief hugh Fisher and State Police Captain Lawrence Meehan were overcome.

Confined to the upper two floors, the fire alternately smoulodered and burst into flame, until after noon, when State Fire Marshal Arnold Renner said it "appeared" to have been brought under control.

Making the $4,000,000 damage estimate, he said, it was "only a guess" so far.

The entire building was damaged by cascading water from four aerial ladders and hoses tied to two impressed construction cranes.

Temporary quarters for the 10 agencies occupying the top four floors were being arranged.

The Abilene Reporter News, Abilene, TX 10 Feb 195


Lansing, MI State Office Building Fire, Feb 1951

My father's office was on the 4th floor. A lot of water damage.
The fire was set by worker who wanted "small" legal offense so he could be exempted by Army draft. [Since he was married with child he would have not be called anyway].
I knew this person and was difficult to believe he did what later he confessed to. He spent several years in prison.

The entire top floor was later removed. Today the Cass building is still in use.

State Office Building Fire

I was a five year old, living in Lansing. We didn't have TV, but I still remember the incredible black-and-white photos on the front and inside pages of the Lansing State Journal. The weather was bitterly cold. Gigantic icicles formed on the window ledges of the Cass Building as water was sprayed into the inferno. As they heroically worked to put out the fire, the firefighters were at risk of slipping and falling on the icy ground -- which invariably happened. Some hydrants and fire hoses froze. I also remember mother telling me how groups of citizens were making sandwiches and coffee for the firefighters, as they were at the scene for hours on end.
The LAJ archives would be a great source for detailed coverage.