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Astoria, OR City Devastated By Fire, Dec 1922 - Astoria in Ruins

Astoria, Ore., Dec. 8 -- The business district of Astoria, the oldest city in Oregon is in ruins, hundreds of persons are homeless and property loss estimated around $15,000,00 has been caused by a fire which earlier today broke out in a restaurant and was soon beyond control of local firemen who resorted to dynamiting in a vain effort to stop the conflagration. For ten hours the flames held away, enting an ever-widening path through the city until shortly after noon. At that time, largely because it had burned itself out, the fire was under control.

Banks, newspaper plants, hotels, stores, theaters and numerous buildings housing a variety of business places were wiped out. According to Fire Chief S. B. Foster, the fire got out of control because it burned beneath the buildings under piling upon which the business section of the city was built. He attributed the disaster to failure to fill in the space beneath the piling.

Norris Staples, automobile man and president of the Bank of Commerce, dropped dead of heart failure while the fire was at its height.

The body of C. J. Smith, a transient, was found hanging under the sidewalk but whether he had ended his life because of the fire or for other reasons the police were unable to learn.

Thirty blocks were wiped out by flames. Many homes the older residence district were destroyed and about 50 families living in an apartment house were made homeless. In addition to these, many persons occupying rooms in the destroyed area lost everything they had except the clothes on their bucks.

Portland Sends Help. A committee of citizens headed by Mayor James Bremmer began plans for immediate relief measures. They were assured of help from Portland and Seaside. Every restaurant and hotel in the city had been destroyed and stocks of food in the stores had been wiped out, so there was prospect of suffering.

Portland bakeries sent loads of bread and Seaside sent word that the hotel there was open to receive those without shelter and a large number of summer cottages at the beach resorts also were to be offered to the homeless. Homes in the residence district also were thrown open to give aid and food to the needy.

The Y. M. C. A. building, which was outside the fire zone, was opened as the headquarters of all welfare agencies.

The Budget, afternoon paper, which attempted to get out an edition today on the press of the paper at seaside, found this impracticable, and instead issued mimeographed sheets.

J. S. Dellinger, publisher of the Astoria, the morning paper, announced that he would probably get out tomorrow morning's edition on the press of the local Finnish daily, The Tovert.

Nevada State Journal, Reno, NV, December 9, 1922

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