Stevens Point, WI Paper Mill Fire, Dec 1906


Wisconsin River Pulp and Paper Co. Sustains a Heavy Loss.

The plant of the Wisconsin River Pulp & Paper Co. sustained another heavy loss by fire Monday. This is the third time this plant has been wholly or largely destroyed by fire.

The fire was first discovered about 6 a. m. in the wheel room, a wooden structure adjoining the main mill at the south end. When discovered flames were already coming through the roof, lighting the sky.

Charles Gaylord, the night watch, had made his last round of the mill for the night and had returned to the other end of the mill, and had just got ontside [sic] the door on his way home when he noticed the glow of the fire as it came up through the roof. He says it was not ten minutes since he left the wheel room until his attention was attracted by the light. When he went through the wheel room Charles Shannon, one of the foremen, was there but he also left immediately afterward and everything appeared to be all right.

The mill was in full operation when the fire was discovered. Some of the hands at work also saw the blaze at about the same moment as Mr. Gaylord and the alarm was quickly given. The volunteer fire fighting force was quickly organized and several streams of water were turned onto the wheel house. However, there was at first considerable difficulty in handling the hose because of the severe cold weather. The cold water and frost would quickly close the nozzles and they would have to be removed and thawed out.

The wheel house made a hot fire and before the blaze was under control, all the outside sheathing had been burned off leaving only the large timbers standing and these badly charred. From the wheel house the flames forced their way through the small apertures in the great stone wall into the basement of the mill proper, the blaze following along the lines of shafting.

Once in the mill the flames spread rapidly and in an incredibly short time the entire basement under the beater room was a roaring furnace. The section of the mill is of wood construction except for the outer walls. The blaze crept up through the floors from the basement and soon the main floor was also all aflame. Here the volunteer fire fighters did excellent work and for a time it seemed that the fire would be confined to this apartment, but while the men were at work protecting the machine room on the west side, the fire crept through the fire wall at the east side and made its way along under the east machine to the north end of the basement of that section where it came up through into the main machine room and flames were soon coming out of the north end of the cupola, leaving the mill in the peculiar situation of appearing to be on fire at both ends and comparatively safe in the center.