Abilene, TX Business District Fire, Aug 1911

Abilene TX Fire, Aug 15, 1911

$135,000 Blaze This Afternoon


National Packing Company's Loss Also Complete; Four Freight Cars Burned; Two Frame Buildings Included in Loss; Destruction to Property Estimated at $135,000; Wooten Insurance $40,000; Burton-Lingo Company Covered; Origin Has Not Been Determined.

Shortly after one o'clock this afternoon flames supposed to have originated from an explosion of combustible matter caused a property loss conservatively estimated at $135,000, which is partially covered by insurance. Losses are as follows:
H. O. Wooten Grocery Company, building and all contents, including contents of cold storage, property loss estimated at $68,000; insurance $40,000.
Burton-Lingo Lumber Company, three sheds and two offices, including all contents; loss estimated at $50,000; amount of insurance not stated, but fully covered.
W. T. Wilson Transfer Company, building and contents destroyed; property loss between $1,500 and $2,000; amount of insurance not known.
National Packing Company, offices in Wooten building, all old papers, fixtures and 2,500 cases of canned meats valued at one thousand dollars; property loss estimated at $6,000.
Texas & Pacific Freight Cars, loaded with canned goods and salt for H. O. Wooten, and cement for Burton-Lingo Company; amount of loss not estimated.

TOTAL PROPERTY LOSS is estimated at about $180,000; total amount of insurance about $75,000.
The origin is not authoritatively known, the story of combustible matter which was reported as exploding being only hearsay statements. Neither Mr. Wooten nor A. H. Herring, Burton-Lingo's manager, can give any information to the origin.

The fire broke out shortly after one o'clock, and for an hour it appeared that the entire business portion of Abilene west of Walnut street, was in danger of destruction. The firemen laid seven lines of hose and fought the blaze from every angle, at two-thirty subduing the flames and confining them to the buildings heretofore mentioned.

A. H. Herring, mananger of the Burton-Lingo Lumber Company made the following statement to the Reporter this afternoon:
"In behalf of the Company I wish to extend my cordial thanks to the fire boys who did all in their power to prevent the spread of a disastrous fire. We appreciate their fight just as much as if they had saved our buildings and later, when we have time, we will express our appreciation in a more substantial manner.

"Relative to the building, I will state that we will rebuild as soon as possible and be open and ready for business just as soon as we are able."

The flames spread with such miracuious[sic] rapidity that by the time the firemen arrived the entire south shed of the Burton-Lingo Lumber Company extending over one entire block, was freely ablaze. Then the blaze licked over the middle and north sheds, quickly consuming them. Burton-Lingo attaches succeeded in stowing away in the two safes all books and papers, bills and currency. These withstood the flames, it is thought.

By the time the first line of hose was laid the northwest wing of the Wooten building was on fire. National Packing Company men who occupy the wing saved all the valuable papers and accounts as well as all the currency in the house, and made their escape through the south end of the building. The Wooten force worked like tigers to stow all the valuable papers and books in the big vault, yet so swiftly did the fire cover the building that they were barely able to escape without injury. The report that one of Mr. Wooten's clerks had received serious burns was an error. There were no injuries.

The fire reached its height when huge tongues of flame swept over Walnut street and set the L. D. Kennedy grain store afire. The blaze was quickly extinguished. The fence to the entrance of the J. F. Morrison coal yard also caught fire, but firemen succeeded in stopping this blaze.

The scene was terribly magnificent. Huge billows of coal black smoke rolling over and over, went up on high to a distance of several hundred yards. Smoke hung over the Pine street business district for a time rendering objects fifty yards away unintelligible. So hot was the blaze that onlookers - and there were thousands of them - could not approach nearer than one hundred yards from any direction. Notwithstanding this complication of hazards nervy firemen, masked behind dripping shirts and handkerchiefs, tugging at twisting and squirming horses, boldly pushed their way into the very face of the flames and sullenly fought every inch of the fire's progress, by their efforts the Logan garage, the Kennedy and Morrison stands, the Ellis grain store, the Lockett furniture store and perhaps many other buildings were saved.