Hot Springs, AR Flood & Fire - Flood, Fire, Wind, Rain

Hot Springs, AR Fire & Flood 1923, photo from


Definite Check on Casualties Impossible; Property Damage Certain to Pass Million Dollars

(By United Press)

HOT SPRINGS, Ark., May 15 - A tornado, cloudburst and fire that swept Hot Springs, famous resort, during the night, left behind flood and ruin that is reported to have taken several lives and did $1,500,000 damage.

A definite check of the casualties was impossible as rescue parties including nurses, physicians and army and navy hospital attendants started relief work. No bodies had been identified at the morgue. Townspeople and business men, their property wrecked and damaged by the ten feet of water that struck the town, were clearing the wreckage and searching for bodies.

Fire Follows Flood

The night of destruction and terror for this famous resort in the Ozarks began shortly before dusk. A cloudburst swept down through the hills with the high velocity wind accompanying it. As the water swept through the streets, fronts of business buildings and other structures on the three main boulevards were crashed in. Automobiles standing at curbs and racing to avoid the torrent were washed away, many drivers narrowly escaping into the valley among the hills below the town.

Fire broke out as the flood passed. Flames caused by lightning burst from the Grand Rapids Furniture company. Fire fighting forces battles the flames in mud and water but with little success. The blaze ate its way into the main business building.

Wealthy guests from the eastern cities, the vanguard of the tourists remaining in their rooms in fear of the fury of the elements.

The Marquette Hotel, a $750,000 structure, was totally destroyed. The electric light plant went out of commission adding further to the confusion of the night.

Death List Unknown

(By Associated Press)

HOT SPRINGS, Ark., May 15 - Hot Springs, city of many disasters, was stricken last night as never before when water and flames united in a general devastation that left death and disaster in its wake.

How many are dead is not known. Water in torrents split the city into three sections. Flames followed in the path of the flood and at night fall covered all sections before a summary could be made. There was not a body reported at the morgue late last night. The flood originated in the upper basin of the mountains north of Hot Springs from a veritable cloudburst.

All Reports Unconfirmed

(By Associated Press)

MEMPHIS, Tenn., May 15 - Direct communications with Hot Springs were cut off again at 2 o'clock this morning so that reports of heavy loss of life there was still unconfirmed early today.

Persistent rumors brought the report that at least seventeen persons were victims of the raging waters or the flames but no bodies had been recovered when the latest word reached Memphis some time after the flood had subside and the flames been brought under control.

Says No Lives Lost

(By Associated Press)

MEMPHIS, Tenn., May 15 - A telegram received from the Western Union manager at Hot Springs at 10:30 this morning said so far as known, no lives had been lost but that the Marquette Hotel and a number of adjoining buildings had been destroyed. No accurate estimate of the property damage was available at that hour.

All wires, both telephone and telegraph were out of order last night....

Wire Offices Hit

The Marquette and Grand Rapids hotels were among the larger buildings destroyed. Newspaper and telegraph offices were invaded by the waters and the telephone quarters were soon abandoned.

The work of rescue was being carried out in the streets and many women and children were saved by miraculously successful efforts of others. Reports by telephone reached many points in several neighboring states early today that the fire was still devouring the business district of the city and threatening the adjoining section.

Iowa City Press Citizen, Iowa City, IA 15 May 1923