Douglas, AK House Fire, Feb 1917

Douglas House Destroyed By Fire Yesterday

Children Have narrow Escape From Flames

One Story Dwelling on Upper Fifth St. in Douglas Burned to the Ground.

Douglas, Fe. 3.-Fire totally destroyed the dwelling occupied by Mr. Antone Courda yesterday afternoon, the flames having gained such headway by the time the alarm was turned in that nothing could be saved. Only the prompt action of the Douglas volunteer fire department saved a number of adjoining houses from the flames, as the wind was high and the water turned on just in time.

The fire originated by a little five year-old girl playing with sticks in the fire and catching the bed clothing. When the room became so full of smoke the little tot could hardly breathe. She ran to a nearby neighbor, who happened to be Mrs. Robt. Dennard, and told her that her little sister was crying because there was so much smoke in the room. Great credit is die Mrs. Dennard, for only through her prompt action in dashing into the burning house, was the little three-year-old girl rescued from the flames. When she had made sure that all the children were out of the house, the alarm had been turned in, but those first on the scene found the rooms a solid wall of flames as one of the back windows had been broken in by the heat which created a draught and by the time the chemical engines were on hand, it was far beyond control.

Within an hour after the alarm was sounded the house was leveled to the ground and the firemen had put out all traces of fire. Owing to the freezing weather and the hardships attending the fighting of fire under such conditions, the volunteers who so promptly responded to the alarm are to be commended on the efficient work done.

A mother and four little children are now without a home. And only through the charity and big-heartedness of the people, who are ever worthy of the name of the true Alaskans in the time of need, the family would now be in want.

“Tony Courda, the father of the family, is not in Gypsum, having gone to work there several weeks ago. The mother works by the day, and was at the home of Mrs. Henry Brie when notified of the fire. She stated that this was the first time she had ever left the little ones alone, the two elder sons being at school, and mentioned early in the day her concern for them. She claims to have had $20 in the mattress of her bed which may yet be found as it was a double eagle and might have escaped melting.

Late last evening a number of prominent women of both Douglas and Treadwell, were outlining plans for the relief of the family. Mayor O’Connor had secured a house and the ladies will see that sufficient furniture, stores and bedding are provided before noon today. The mother and babies were comfortably provided for last night, a warmhearted Douglas lady taking the family into her own home. Clothes for the children will come from many different sources today, and before night the unfortunate family should be comfortably settled again in a new home.

This fire should serve as an object lesson for every resident to be extremely careful of fire, particularly during this kind of weather. Attention was called yesterday to several houses in the vicinity of the one burned, which are veritable fire traps. Several defective flues were noted, one of which was broken in two and hanging by a supported wire, not two doors from the burned dwelling. Marshal Shafer entered the house and called attention to the danger. The woman of the house was sitting near a red hot stove with two small children in arms. She stated that she knew of the danger and that spark often flew all over the roof, but that their landlord had refused to put out any money for improvements when told about the defective flue.

Probably the landlord was, or never has been notified of the conditions, but in case the owners of such fire traps fail to remedy these evils, it is up to the tenants to make the improvements and hold it out of their rentals. There is a city ordinance covering defective flues and it is now up to everyone, tenants as well as landlords, to investigate the conditions of the chimneys and stove pipes. By being careful of fire in your own home, you protect your neighbor as well as yourself. Look out for fire.

Daily Alaska Dispatch, Juneau, AK 3 Feb 1917