Waco, TX Courthouse Fire, Nov 1897

Narrowly Averted.

Waco, Tex., Nov. 16.-A costly conflagration was narrowly averted to-day, one that would not only have involved irreparable loss to the public, but would probably have been attended with loss of life. It was in the county courthouse that the fire started. There is an extra office above that of the superintendent of the county schools, in which deputy clerks of any of the departments work where there is a rush and the desks below are crowded. In this room a stove is kept, the pipe of which connects with the larger pipe conveying the smoke from the stove on the first floor. Sparks flew into the smaller pipe and ignited the soot which fell into the small stove and started the litter to burning and in that way fire was communicated to a heap of old school records. Promptness on the part of Janitor Cary in giving the alarm and the ready response of the fire department saved the building, the records and perhaps the lives of some people. Two courts and the grand jury were in session and the upper floors were crowded. Women and children were among the persons in attendance on Judge Scott’s court. A high north wind was blowing and the flames were fast gaining headway when the stream was turned on and the fire and the panic ended, together. A few school records, which can be rewritten from memorandums in possession of Superintendent Conyers burned. The water poured down into the county clerk’s office and wet the books and papers. The courthouse is fully insured. The damage to the building is nominal. The incipient fire started anew the agitation for a modern courthouse, one in which the records accumulated for more than half a century will not be subject to such jeopardy as occurred this morning.

Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX 17 Nov 1897