Valdez, AK Fire, Jul 1915

Valdez People Active

Will Rebuild At Once Most of the Section of the Town Destroyed.

Fire is a Mystery

Started in the Frye-Bruhn Building, Which was Undergoing Repairs-Loss Estimated at $650,000, Which is Partly Insured.

(By Associated Press)
Valdez, July 16.-Fire yesterday, which started in the FryeBruhn building at 4 o’clock yesterday morning, destroyed the business section.

Fifty buildings were burned at a loss of $500,000. S. Bdum & Co., lost $100,000 and the dock company lost $50,000, making a total of $650,000.

Blum will rebuild at once.

The Frye-Bruhn Company, where the fire started and which was being repaired, will build as soon as lumber is received. Other property owners are preparing to build. The burnt area was but partly insured.

Origin is Mystery.

The origin of the fire is still a mystery. Some claim that it was from an overheated stove and there is another report that it was set on purpose.

The officers are investigating with a view of finding out the cause. There had been no rain in Valdez for weeks and everything was dry as tinder and the flames spread rapidly.

Fortunately there was no casualties, although a number of people report narrow escapes in trying to save the contents of buildings.

Assistance From Fort.

Lieutenant Koehler, commander of the Fort Liseum fort, sent the entire garrison and the hospital corps here to assist the towns people in fighting the flames.

There was a dry strong wind from the glacier which caused the flames to spread. The water was insufficient and about all the townspeople could do was to stand by and watch their places burn.

Dynamite was unsuccessfully tried to check the flames.

Patrol Burned District.

The troops from Fort Liseum have been assigned to guard duty to patrol the ruined district until all remaining property is accounted for and rebuilding begins, in order to prevent any attempt at looting.

Buildings Destroyed.

Among the buildings destroyed were the big stores of Sam Blum, the First Bank of Valdez, William Blackwell’s, Tony’s Saloon, the Empress Theatre, the Treat buildings, the Valdez Dock Company’s building, the Panama Hotel, the Valdez Daily Prospector, the Alaska Road Commission offices, with the maps and records of ten years’ accumulation, the Valdez Telephone Exchange, the Crawford Mills, the Copper River Lumber Company’s offices, the J.C. Dieringer barns, the J.C. Martin homes, the United States post-office, the government warehouses, and numerous cabins.

For a time the fire threatened to make a clean sweep of Mckinley Street. But one building in four blocks was saved.

Judge Runnell lost his library, the sheet metal works and besides were destroyed his office building and lumber yards.

Many small launches along the beach were burned.

The Daily Prospector saved a shirt-tail of type, used a borrowed press and issued four columns on wrapping paper.

Some Incidents.

For a time the court house buildings and the cable office buildings were threatened, but prompt and energetic work saved them.

Capt. And Mrs. Glen Edgerton escaped in their night clothes, and lost all of their personal effects. Mrs. Blackwell, her sister and niece escaped in the same manner.

The Hotel Archibald and its guests lost heavily. Joe Plant lost a new consignment of $2,000 worth of jewelry.

Alice Coles sustained a broken leg while assisting to save the mail and other property of the post office. All the mail was saved.

From the Cliff House to the Valdez Mercantile Company’s building everything is clear to the beach. A score of launches were unable to get away from the waterfront and were destroyed.

Judge Charles E. Bunnell was one of the heaviest losers. His losses are placed at $30,000.

The Daily Alaska Dispatch, Juneau, AK 16 Jul 1915


Valdez Losses Given Detail By Prospector

Following are the losses sustained in the Valdez fire as given by the Prospector.
S. Blum & Co., $125,000.
First Bank of Valdez, $15,000.
Mrs. Blackwell, $20,000.
Frye-Bruhn Co., $10,000.
The Empress Theatre, building and films, $20,000.
Daggett building, $400.
Tony’s corner, $20,000.
Andy Dieringer, office and home, $5,000.
Harrington Hall, $3,000.
Andy Dieringer, barn and contents, $5,000.
Skating Rink, $2,000.
Andy Dieringer St. Marie Building, $5,000.
Fish cabins, $300.
Mrs. St. Marie, $3,000.
George White office, $100.
J.L. Reed, building and library, $4,000.
Larson building, $500.
C.E. Bunnell, office building and law library, $10,000.
E.B. Wheat, residence, $1500.
C.E. Bunnell, Valdez Sheet Metal Works building, $5000.
Charles Ganty, office and contents, $1000.
J.M. Lathrop, dock, office and contents, $25,000.
J.M. Lathrop, Prospector building, $3000.
Prospector Publishing Co., $10,000
Archibald building, $20,000.
Contents Valdez Sheet Metal Works $4000.
Post office building and contents, $10,000.
Olson building, $750.
Copper River Lumber Co., $25,000
Crawford Building and machinery, $35,000.
George Treat, Cameron Tailor shop, Valdez Real Estate office and barber shop, $2000.
The road commission building, Treat and Smith, owners, $5000.
Sam Mcniece $500.
Road Commission office fixtures, $2000.
Charles Day building, $2000.
A.W.L. & T. Co., street wires, fixtures and office building, $10,000.
Wm. Finical, $1000.
The Giles building, $500.
Hepfinger & Golden, $1000.
Losses were also suffered by the Valdez Drug building, the Seattle Hotel and the big Valdez Mercantile building.


Many boats were burned when the flames reached the waterfront. The tide was out and the launches could not seek safety in flight.

Capt. Morris saved the Three M, which was tied up to the mill wharf.

The Valdez Transfer Company is on the hob and doing business.

Mrs. St. Marie saved but little of her furniture and dishes. The things rescued from the building were later burned on the mill dock.

Mrs. Chas. Crawford lost nearly all of her household goods.

A number of roomers in Tony’s Place lost their clothing and effects.

Mrs. Blackwell, her sister and niece, were forced to flee in their night clothes and saved nothing.

Capt. and Mrs. Edgerton saved but little of their personal effects in the Lathrop building.

Mrs. Chas Bush saved the baby and a few other little things from her rooms in the Crawford building.

Chief U.S. Deputy Marshal Bouse and his assistants did good work at the fire. The boys from the hail helped to work the hand pump.

Most of the men in town willingly helped to save the goods of the people whose buildings were in the path of the flames.

Dan Sheehan, Robert Kelset, Harland Heesler, J.C. Martin and C.G. Wulff saved enough of the Prospector type to allow for the getting out of this paper, with the assistance of a borrowed press.

Alice Coles, the postal clerk, broke her leg running to the post office to help save the mail.

Postmaster Jefferson saved all the mail and has opened a new office in the Shepherd building, near the Tillikum Club.

Sam Blum will come from Cordova on the Almiral Evans to arrange for the rebuilding of his store and bank.

McKinley street will be rebuilt immediately and will be the finest street in Alaska.

The Daily Alaska Dispatch, Juneau, AK 22 Jul 1915