Sherman, TX Cotton Compress Co. Fire, Dec 1903




Between Fifteen Hundred and Two Thousand Bales Either Ruined or in Bad Condition by Fire.

Special to the news.

Sherman, Tex., Dec 8 - The plant of the Sherman Compress Company is a total wreck from fire, and cotton variously estimated at from 1,500 to 2,000 bales in either ruined of badly damaged. The blaze was discovered at 11 a. m. and the engines and hose companies from every station in the city hurried to the scene. A high north wind was prevailing, making it more difficult to combat the flames.

In the midst of the excitement a false alarm was turned in from Middleton street, over a mile away, and a hose truck was sent there in a rush.

In the removal of the cotton from the wharves a bale fell upon ABE GIBBS, colored, and he was picked up in an unconscious condition and his care is considered precarious. LORANCE SMITH, son of Hon. CECIL H. SMITH, was truck by a horse in South Crockett street in the run to answer the Middleton street alarm, and was painfully bruised. Finding that the terrible strain was rapidly lowering the water in standpipes, Chairman LUCAS of the public works commission at once leased a deep well from the Sherman ice works and was soon recuperating the available supply for fire protection.

Five cars in the commercial yards of the Houston and Texas Central Railway were totally destroyed. Several passenger trains were delayed from one to two hours because of hose stretching across the rails.

With the first information that the fire was of alarming proportions Alderman MORELAND, chairman of the Denison fire commission, tendered the assistance of his department, but the services of the Denison department were not required so quick was the work of the flames.

TOM FORBES JR., one of the firm of Birge, Forbes & Co., owners of the compress, and most of the cotton destroyed, said this afternoon:
"You can state that the compress will be rebuilt. It is impossible at this hour and will likely be for days, to tell just what our loss really is. We carried insurance to the amount of at least $21,000 and perhaps $25,000 on the building and machinery. The loss sustained to this property will likely reach that amount if not exceed it. It will require a careful checking over of all the cotton to discover the exact number of bales destroyed and damaged. Mr. THORPE, our manager, gives it as his opinion that 2,000 bales are affected. As rapidly as I can secure wagons all cotton will be hauled to fields and other places of security."

NAT BURGE is in Beaumont, and much of the data concerning the press was not available on that account. It is estimated that the loss will reach $150,000, including loss on cotton, which is fully covered by blanket insurance.

It is not possible to secure the names of all the owners of cotton destroyed or damaged in the fire today at the Sherman compress. At 10 p. m. the cotton in the wreckage is still burning and a detail of firemen will be on duty there all night.

Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX 9 Dec 1903