St. Peter, MN State Insane Asylum Fire, Nov 1880

St. Peter, MINN Insane Asylum Fire.jpg

FIGHTING FIRE -- THE MINNESOTA STATE INSANE ASYLUM AT ST. PETER BURNED WITH ITS CONTENTS.

SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTY SIX INMATES AWAKENED TO FACE THE FLAMES.

AND A LARGE NUMBER FAIL TO MAKE THEIR ESCAPE ALIVE.

PARTICULARS OF THE DREADFUL CALAMITY.

First Dispatch -- A Fire.
St. Paul, Minn., November 16. -- A report has just reached here of a fire raging in the state insane asylum at St. Peter. An engine has been sent from here. The institution has 600 inmates.

Second Dispatch -- Completely Destroyed.
St. Paul., Nov. 16. -- A dispatch from the mayor of St. Peter to Governor Pilsbury says the insane asylum is completely destroyed. No particulars have as yet been received.

Third Dispatch -- Terrible Loss Of Life.
Chicago, No. 16. -- A dispatch received from St. Paul at 3 o'clock this morning, after report had closed, says a fire in the Minnesota Insane Asylum, at St. Peters, originated in a corner of the basement of the north building and at about the same time there was a fire in the basement in an adjoining section. The cause of the fire is still unknown. No one knows how many perished but is is feared the number will at least reach fifty. It will be some time before the exact number can be given as some patients, taking advantage of the confusion, ran away, while others wandered off aimlessly and will be surprising if some have perished from cold. The loss on the building estimated from $100,000 to $150,000. No insurance. Additional particulars are expected every minute.

Fourth Dispatch -- Further Particulars.
St. Paul, Minn., Nov. 16. -- A dispatch to the latest edition of the morning papers indicate the fire in the St. Peter asylum was not as serious as feared, last night; only one wing of the building was destroyed. The whole structure was ten years in course of erection and was only finished three years ago. The cost was over half a million. The loss by fire will be from $100,000 to $150,000, on which there is no insurance, the state having neglected this precaution. The origin of the fire is unknown, though it is located in the basement of the north wing, which was destroyed.
Reports of loss of life are indefinite and conflicting. Different rumors place the number of victims at from twenty to fifty, but no bodies have been found and no one is surely identified as missing.
The superintendent ordered the release of all patients as soon as the danger became imminent, and it is probable that in the confusion of the night some were overlooked and burned. This probabililty is increased by the fact that some of the rooms quickly filled with smoke and could not be entered by the rescuers. There were 656 patients in the hospital last year. The inmates were cared for last night by the citizens. Some provision will be made for them today by the state authorities.

Fort Wayne Daily Sentinel Indiana 1880-11-16

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