Abilene, TX Business District Fire, Aug 1911

Abilene TX Fire, Aug 15, 1911

Just when it seemed that many another building must go and property loss soar into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, the west wall of Wooten building fell with a resounding crash to be followed by a portion of the east and south walls. Then came such a fusillade of explosions as had been rarely heard in any place in any time. Half a car of cartridges and shotgun shells stored against the southeast wall of the Wooten basement, began to explode. For thirty minutes a continuous rattle resembling the staccato explosions of a Gatling gun warned spectators from approaching too near the scene and blackened and empty cartridge hulls were picked up at a distance of several hundred yards from the Wooten building.

The wind played many queer tricks. When the fire started it was blowing from the northeast, then, suddenly, changed to the east. This caused the danger to the buildings on the west side of Walnut stret [sic]. Finally it shifted almost to the sough and for thirty minutes or more ceased altogether. Had the wind continued to blow strongly toward the west no contrivance of human agency, it is predicted, could save the north side of Abilene's business district.

The four freight cars destroyed were on the Texas & Pacific siding between the Wooten building and south shed of the Burton-Lingo Company. All were loaded, two with canned goods and salt for Wooten and the other two with lime and cement for Burton-Lingo.

The only incident approximating an injury occurred when the fire was hottest and Dave, the spirited coal black horse on Protection Hose No. 1, was the victim. Driver Major Daniel avers that Dave in his excitement, literally picked up a segment of burning wire in his teeth. His tongue and jaws were frightfully burned.

While the west wall fo the Wooten building was trembling on the point of collapse, Mr. Wooten, C. W. Bacon and other company officials were standing together on the Texas and Pacific right of way between the freight depot and the T. F. Lockett establishment. Mr. Wooten was conversing with a reporter as to his losses and insurance when J. M. Radford, his largest competitor, walked up, held out his hand and said: "If it will do any good, Horace, don't miss an order. We will stand by you as long as we have a dollars worth of goods left."

Abilene Daily Reporter, August 15, 1911


Zack Adams..... opened several grocery stores in Abilene, including a store at North Third and Pine Streets. A flood in July 1911 and a large downtown fire on August 15, 1911, destroyed Adams's businesses, and he moved to Lubbock, Texas in 1915.

- Lost Abilene by Jack E. North